Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs SB 4 delivering $8 million to assist the New Mexico 2020 Census Count. Courtesy photo
THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed Senate Bill 4, an essential bipartisan measure that delivers $8 million to ensure an accurate New Mexico count in the 2020 Census, which is essential for securing federal funds over the next decade. This emergency appropriation bolsters the $3.5 million in Census funding secured by the Legislature and governor last year.
“We all have to pull together on the Census,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “The stakes are enormous. This funding will help ensure New Mexico receives every federal dollar to which we are entitled – for health care, for food assistance, for roads in communities all across the state and so much more.”
The governor praised the sponsors – Sens. William Burt and Liz Stefanics and Reps. Susan Herrera and Gail Armstrong – for their leadership and the Legislature for supporting the measure unanimously.
The budget plan for the appropriation includes significant funding for paid advertising in multiple languages and funding for outreach grants to local governments, tribal governments, and community-based organizations. The grants can be used for Census-related initiatives, including direct, one-on-one outreach, local meetings, census events, printed materials, mapping services and hiring workers who speak Spanish and Native languages.
Last year, the governor issued an executive order creating the New Mexico 2020 Statewide Complete Count Commission to ensure the highest participation rate possible. She also requested $10 million in funding for the commission; the Legislature appropriated $3.5 million. That funding and the outreach efforts of the state have assured the launch of Complete Count committees in all 33 counties.
The Census, which begins March 12, determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and is used to provide funding to states for federal programs. It is estimated that even a 1 percent undercount could result in a loss of $780 million in federal funding for New Mexico.
New Mexico is considered one of the hardest-to-count states in the nation because of large minority communities, language diversity and hard-to-reach rural areas.
New Mexico currently receives at least $7.8 billion annually through 55 federal programs guided by Census counting. That includes poverty programs like Medicaid ($4.3 billion) and SNAP ($690 million), and education programs like federal student loans ($280 million), Pell grants ($171 million) and Head Start ($83 million).