SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah legislative leaders are considering spending up to $1 million on efforts to promote participation in the census next year.
State lawmakers met Tuesday to discuss 2020 census spending, and the issue was brought up in closed Republican caucus meetings, Republican Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers told the Deseret News.
The 10-year count determines the distribution of federal funding. It is also key to redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative boundaries.
“The bottom line is we have to count everybody,” Vickers said. “If we don’t, we get behind.”
Lawmakers have not yet decided if the funding would be appropriated during a special legislative session or moved from other areas of the budget, Vickers said.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert in his budget proposal last year had recommended $75,000 for a digital advertising campaign for the census.
House minority Caucus Manager Karen Kwan, a Democrat, also tried to get the Legislature to allocate $500,000 for census promotion, but the effort failed this year.
“We may have dropped the ball a bit there,” Vickers said. “The dynamics of the census have changed.”
President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed adding a question about citizenship on the questionnaire, prompting concerns about participation among immigrant populations. The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the matter.
“We want to make sure we reach out to all Utahns. We want to make sure all Utahns know the census is safe, easy and important,” said Evan Curtis, state planning coordinator with the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.