Gov. Kay Ivey told the Alabama Association of County Commissions’ convention in Orange Beach last week of the many challenges ahead for Alabama including infrastructure, education and expanding industry and technology. But she said one issue stands out from the rest if the state wants to continue moving forward.
“Another priority is a high one,” Ivey told the group. “There is no more urgent issue that we face than completing the census that will be mailed out in March 2020.”
Ivey warned congressional seats and federal funding could be at stake if participation doesn’t increase from the previous two censuses.
“Let me just put it into perspective,” she said. “If we participate at the rate we did in 2000 we will lose two congressional seats. If we participate at the rate we did in 2010 during the census we’ll still lose one seat. We must absolutely raise the level of participation to at least 80 percent of our people so that we can retain our federal funding at the level we have now and also maintain our congressional representation.”
Census forms will be sent to Alabama residents with instructions on how to complete the census.
“It’s only got 10 questions on it so it’s going to be easy to fill out, won’t take much time [and] it will be safe and secure,” Ivey said.
A toll-free number is available for those who want to call in the information, or traditional paper forms with instructions included will be mailed to rural areas.
She told the commissioners they could play a vital role in getting to the 80 percent participation. City councils in Baldwin County are already appointing census boards to try and increase participation.
To that end, Ivey said she formed the Alabama Counts 2020 board in 2018 using the slogan “I Count.”
“The theme we chose means that your individual voice matters, you can have a positive impact on your family, your community, your state and you have a say in ensuring that Alabama’s representation is adequate for our values in Washington, D.C.,” Ivey said.
She said that committee is already working to spread census awareness around the state.
“I know it’s not 2020 yet, but, folks, we have truly got to be totally prepared to have a complete and accurate census,” Ivey said. “An accurate and complete census will absolutely have significant impact on federal discussions that we get involved with, whether it affects healthcare or infrastructure or education and representation in Congress. This is a serious issue.”
During the 12-minute speech, Ivey also praised the Alabama economy saying 2018 set a record of $8.7 billion for investments in new and expanding businesses that created 17,000 jobs. She said about $5.5 billion in potential investments are in the works this year and could create up to 10,000 more jobs in the state.
Another initiative she’s backing is making the state school board appointed rather than elected and “removing the state board of education from the whims of political election.”
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