Guest Columnist

Gregg and Pate: Census 2020 is key to Iowa's future

Forms from the U.S. Census Bureau.  (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Forms from the U.S. Census Bureau. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

There are plenty of opportunities for Iowans to impact their future in 2020 — from the caucuses earlier this year to the general election in November. However, another important opportunity may be flying under your radar: the 2020 Census.

Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution mandates we take a detailed count of Iowans. The Census is not only a major element in the foundation of our representative form of government, but is also the basis on which billions of our taxpayer dollars are allocated.

The Census is key to Iowa’s future. With so much at stake, shouldn’t we strive to be No. 1? Given Iowa’s competitive spirit, there is perhaps no better way to get to the top than a little friendly competition — with our neighbors, and among ourselves.

Iowa has traditionally had one of the highest self-response rates to the Census, ranking third in 2010 and second in 2000. For the 2020 Census, Gov. Kim Reynolds set a goal of being number one in the nation. So far, we’ve been hovering at number three, behind Minnesota and Wisconsin. Michigan and Nebraska are nipping at our heels.

Already, more than two-thirds of Iowa households have completed the 2020 Census. We can do better — and we are asking for your help. To help drive response rates and overtake our Midwestern neighbors, we’ve created a competition among Iowa’s communities. The State of Iowa Complete Count Committee is calling on all of Iowa’s 942 cities and 99 counties to compete in the “Key to the Future 2020 Census Response Rate Challenge.” We are encouraging cities and counties to significantly exceed their 2010 response levels.

Just how much is at stake? It goes well beyond mere bragging rights. The Census impacts over $8.7 billion in federal funding for Iowa according to a recent study by George Washington University. For every Iowan who is not counted, the state stands to lose $1,700 each year — or $17,000 over 10 years. This funding supports services that Iowans interact with everyday — roads, housing, education, agriculture and more. Census data also drives emergency response plans and funds for health care critical in the COVID-19 era. Census data also will help ensure fair representation in Iowa’s congressional and legislative seats, school boards, city councils and county boards.

Are you ready for the challenge? Find response rates for your city and county at 2020Census.gov/response-rates. Respond to the census, if you haven’t already. Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to respond. Ask your city and county officials about how you can help your community be counted.

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It’s never been easier — or more important — to respond online at my2020Census.gov or by phone (1-844-330-2020). Did you get a paper questionnaire? Complete it and drop it in the mail. Responding takes less than 10 minutes and has a ten-year impact on the State of Iowa.

This is a competition where everyone wins when everyone counts. With local efforts neighbor to neighbor, the State of Iowa can reach number one in self-response rates.

Will you help make sure #IowaCounts? Be the key to your community’s future.

Adam Gregg is the lieutenant governor of Iowa and the chair of the Iowa 2020 Census Complete Count Committee. Paul Pate is the Iowa secretary of state and the Vice Chair of the Iowa 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.

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