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BLOG |  Issue Salience | August 3, 2023

Unlocking Federal Funds for Texas: How Census Data Drives Investments in Education, Health, Infrastructure, and Public Safety

In this post, we’re diving into the critical connection between census data, federal funds, and the issues that shape the future of our great state. Join us as we explore how accurate census data plays a crucial role in driving education, health, infrastructure, and public safety in Texas, and why accurate data is essential to our everyday lives.

The Missing $20 Billion

Did you know that the 2020 undercount in Texas caused us to miss out on a staggering $20 billion in federal revenue? This revenue represents YOUR federal tax dollars —enough to build more schools, improve healthcare services, fix our roads, and enhance public safety.

To make this issue real, consider your annual tax bill and recognize that some of your dollars went to other states because Texas didn’t count everyone living here. To understand why this hurts Texas and Texans, consider the potholes in the roads you drive on daily, the gap in services for your healthcare needs, or the state of our public schools.

The Role of Census Data in Federal Programs

But how does population data relate to federal programs? Imagine a pie chart representing a staggering $2.8 trillion in federal funds distributed through 350+ programs nationwide. To determine who gets what, the government uses Census Bureau data to ensure that funds reach states based on the most up-to-date population information.

$2.8 trillion in federal funds are distributed across 350+ programs using census data.

Connecting the Dots: Texas Census Institute's Approach

Now, let’s play a little game of connect-the-dots. You see, each of the issues we care about, like education, health, infrastructure, public safety, and economic development, is directly linked to specific federal programs. Below, we will look at how some of these  programs utilize census and American Community Survey (ACS) data.

The Issues Most Important for Texans

To determine which issues matter most to our state, the Texas Census Institute embarked on a fact finding mission, utilizing formal and informal research and collaborating with several partners including Allyn Media, Texas 2036, and the Texas Politics Project.  Our goal- to gain an understanding of the issues that hold a special place in the hearts of Texans.

We started with a report from Allyn Media which detailed trending news and socioeconomic trends across 12 state regions. From there, we identified the issues that popped up in most regions of the state.  Based on this work, we identified seven key issues and dug into existing research and reports to better understand them.

Thanks to census data, Texas secures investments for public works and business and industry loan guarantees, empowering local entrepreneurs and driving economic prosperity.

To this end, we cross-referenced the Strategic Framework for Texas from Texas 2036, which provides a wealth of valuable indicators, helping us gain deeper insights into the pulse of Texas. And we overlaid our findings with polls conducted through the Texas Politics Project, which taps into registered voters’ perspectives on important issues in elections and the pressing problems facing Texas today.

Key Takeaways:

Through this analysis, we identified the top priorities that resonate deeply with the people of Texas: Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, Housing, Infrastructure, Public Safety.

Connecting Issues to Federal Programs

Once we identified the critical issues facing our state, the next step was to explore their connection to federal programs. Census expert Andrew Reamer’s research report “Counting for Dollars 2020” played a pivotal role in this aspect. Reamer’s work demonstrates how federal funds to states are distributed based on the data collected from the decennial census and American Community Survey (ACS).

Here’s how some of these federal programs are linked to the issues Texans care about:

Education: Census data plays a significant role in the formulas used to distribute funds for programs like Title I grants, which help improve educational opportunities in low-income schools.
Health: Federal funds guided by census data support Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and community health centers, ensuring that healthcare services are accessible to all.
Infrastructure: From bumpy back roads to bustling highways, infrastructure like roads and airports are central to our thriving economy. Census data is used for planning and in the allocation of funds for highway planning and construction.
Public Safety: Census data is used to direct funds to programs like flood insurance, firefighter grants, and homeland security.
Economic Development: Thanks to census data, we secure investments for public works and business and industry loan guarantees, empowering local entrepreneurs and driving economic prosperity.

Accurate Census Data Matters to Texans:

Education empowers our children to become future leaders and taxpayers, infrastructure keeps our economy moving, and public safety brings peace of mind. Economic development fuels the Texas miracle, allowing our state to thrive.

Accurate census data empowers policymakers, community-based organizations, and businesses to make informed decisions that shape our state’s future. This data is the foundation upon which we build a better Texas for generations to come.

To learn more about how the Texas Census Institute’s research reveals the powerful link between census data, federal funds, and the issues that matter most to Texans, read the full report

Together, let’s use this research to advocate for a brighter future for Texas. By leveraging accurate census data, we can secure the funding needed to address our critical issues more effectively. We hope you will partner with us to create a stronger, safer, and more prosperous Lone Star State!

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