Officials: Each blank Census form costs Texas thousands



Posted on March 12, 2010 at 4:54 PM

AUSTIN -- State and federal officials have spent months urging every Texan to get counted, especially those in tough-to-count areas like East Austin. That’s why what East Austin resident Rose Mary Scott said is likely music to their ears.

 “Oh, yeah, I'm going to be participating. I'm a resident counselor, so I’m going to be helping people fill out their forms. We're going to have a party to help bilingual and our people fill out the forms,” she said. “We need more funding, and I’m going to make sure we get our part.”
As part of a publically-funded push, census workers have been trying especially hard to get out the message in hard-to-count areas.
For every Texan who doesn't get that message, the State Demographer's Office fears Texas will miss-out on 13,500 federal dollars a year.
In Austin alone 15,000 people may have been missed in the last count ten years ago.
That means more than $200 million in federal funding went somewhere else.
State leaders gathered on the Capitol steps Friday to drive home that point -- rallying and trying to re-focus the eyes of all Texans on filling out their census form when it comes in the mail.
“Open it. Complete the 10 questions. It takes 10 minutes, and it's going to help Texas for the next 10 years,” said Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade.
Census officials and other advocates say the constitutionally required count is really not interested in personal information like your name or your address. They just want to find out how many people live in a given area.
“People are so afraid of having their names in places that can come back and haunt them. Let's face it, we have a lot of people who have unpaid traffic tickets or who haven’t turned back library books - all sorts of things,” noted former East Austin State Rep. Wilhelmina Delco. She hoped to assure citizens that none of that matters in this count.
She was joined by the regional director of the Census.
“There’s nothing on the form that can hurt you. We don’t ask if you've paid your taxes. We don’t ask if you have tickets due. We don’t ask for your credit card number. We don’t ask for your social security number; we don’t ask your immigration status," said Gabriel Sanchez.

Click here for a look at the questions on the form.