Florida Is Not Taking the U.S. Census Seriously

How important is the 2020 United States Census for Florida? The count will decide how many new congressional seats will be awarded until 2030, as well as Florida’s share of more than $675 billion in federal funding for hospitals, schools, and roads.

It’s also important for redistricting: the congressional and state legislature districts are redrawn based on census data. Further, data is used to determine funding allocations for Medicaid, Medicare Part B, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). 

But you wouldn’t know that the census is important for Florida by the inactions of Governor Ron DeSantis. 

On January 7, DeSantis finally announced a Census committee — making Florida one of the last states to do so and without committing any money to the effort, which could have serious consequences on Florida’s Federal funding. The Associated Press reported that the 2020 Census could result in Florida gaining up to two congressional seats.

Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, chastised DeSantis for his lack of action and political motivations:

“Governor Ron DeSantis has dragged his feet on preparing the Sunshine State for the 2020 Census. Now that he has finally heeded calls to create a committee, we learn it isn’t even properly funded. 

Florida is the third most populous state in the country, and the Census cannot be done last minute. DeSantis’s procrastination could result in many Floridians not being counted, and that puts at risk federal dollars and additional congressional seats.”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who was Florida’s governor the last time the census was conducted, noted that the census should not be a partisan issue. “There was no Republican opposition that I heard when we did it ten years ago,” he said. 

But in today’s highly polarized political environment, there is a clear partisan gap between states willing to fund the upcoming census. “You haven’t seen one Republican sign on and say this is a nonpartisan issue,” complains Osceola County Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres. “This is common sense.”