March 04, 2010

CENSUS 2010: ALL AMERICANS NEED TO BE COUNTED

Census Day comes only once every 10 years and it's one of the most important days of the decade. That's because it's when everyone in our nation is counted.  In addition to telling us about ourselves, the results ensure fair representation in Congress and the amount of funding that states will receive for a multitude of critical services, including money for schools, roads, and hospitals. 
 
The 2010 Census will have a profound impact on Maryland.  The federal government distributes more than $400 billion to state governments every year, and an accurate count of all Marylanders could result in more than $57 billion for our state over the next decade -- money that we depend on to ensure our citizens have the health care, education and other services they need.
 
April 1 is Census Day 2010 and it's critical that all Marylanders participate.  Maryland has approximately 5.7 million residents, according to the Census Bureau's 2009 population estimate.  If all Marylanders are counted, that translates into more than $5.7 billon a year for our state's treasury. That money will help us balance budgets and provide essential services that are needed.
 
There is no excuse for anyone not to participate. Your answers will be kept strictly confidential and this year the process is easier than ever. The form has been reduced to just 10 questions that should take no more than 10 minutes. In fact, The U.S. Census Bureau is using the slogan "10 questions --10 minutes" to get the point across.
 
Around March 15, 130 million American households will receive a Census form. You will be asked to mail it back on April 1.   If you fail to do so, Census workers will be visiting households to contact residents to ensure the most accurate count possible.
 
In addition to being used to calculate funding for states, the Census is used to apportion representation in Congress. The U.S. Constitution states that there are to be 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and that Census data is to be used every 10 years to reapportion representation based on population.
 
Not only will the Census impact our democracy, but it will also create jobs for Americans. The Census Bureau is expected to hire approximately 1.4 million temporary workers to reach people who have failed to mail back their Census form.  If you are interested in getting a job with the U.S. Census Bureau, please visit their web site at www.2010censusjobs.gov or you can call 1-866-861-2010, FedRelay: 1-800-877-8339 TTY.
 
It is hard to imagine that our Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison - two of the biggest supporters of a Census -- could have envisioned the importance it would have more than 200 years later. Their idea of a Census has made our democracy stronger and more representative, but it also has provided us with important information that will help us plan for the future needs of our citizens.  
 
This year, April 1 is Census Day 2010, and I urge every Marylander to participate. Remember, democracy works best when everyone is counted.