With $73 Billion In Federal Funding On The Line, Gov Recruits MLK III, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lucy Liu To Co-Chair New Census Council

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With power and billions in federal aid at stake, Gov. Andrew Cuomo used Martin Luther King Day to start a campaign to make sure every New Yorker is counted.

He’s particularly concerned about under-counting in communities of color, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

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An estimated 19.5 million people live in the state and Cuomo wants to make sure that every single one of them is counted in the 2020 census. Money and power are at stake.

“The the census has dramatic effects on this state,” Cuomo said. “It determines the representation in Congress. It determines how many electoral votes you get, and it’s the basis for distribution of federal funding.”

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As much as $73 billion in federal aid for such things as housing, highway construction, special education, and school lunches is on the line. That equals $3,700 per person.

New York could also lose seats in Congress. After the 2010 national head count the state lost two seats, going from 29 to 27.

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By contrast, 50 years ago, in 1970, New York had 41 seats, which is why the governor announced the creation of a new Census Council, co-chaired by Martin Luther King III, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Lucy Liu. Outreach to communities of color, who have traditionally been under-counted, will be part of their charge.

“This is the challenge of our day, and Martin Luther King Jr. said the time is always right to do what is right. The time is always right to do what is right. This is right,” Cuomo said.

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The challenge is bigger this time because in the past every household would at least be mailed a short form questionnaire. This year, people in every household must still participate but will just get a notice saying they can do it online, by phone, or request the traditional paper form.

The fear in New York is that it will depress the count, so Cuomo is pulling out all the stops to convince people they have nothing to fear by participating in the census. The state will do the following:

* Provide spot translation services in 200 languages

* Allow people to go to 96 Labor Department career centers to fill out the form online

* Distribute census information at DMV offices, and SUNY and CUNY campuses.

The state will also send $70 million to get the word out. In 2010, it spent $2 million.

“You can’t have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people if you do not know who the people are and where they live,” Cuomo said.

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The state is stepping up because the feds have cut funds for the census. Census Bureau field offices in New York dropped from 35 in 2010 to 21 this year.