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Op-ed: Counting on West Virginia

It’s 2020, and while most minds might be on the upcoming elections, there’s another way you can have your voice heard and make a difference in government: take the census.

Every single West Virginian needs to take the census for two critical reasons:

First, census data helps determine the portion of federal funding our state receives. In many cases, when federal funding is given to the state and local communities, the amount is determined by a formula that incorporates population.

A low response rate could mean less federal funding for economic development grants, rural broadband investments, health centers, fire departments, and more. This will directly affect everyday lives in West Virginia communities across our state.

It’s important that we make sure our underserved groups are counted for-like college students, young children, and senior citizens.

As your senator, I announce grants that come to West Virginia and all the good they can provide our communities, whether it’s educational resources, community arts programs, or support for law enforcement. It would be terrible if our communities suffered for lack of filling out the census.

This is why I worked in a bipartisan way to change the funding formula specifically for opioid funding to drive more dollars to West Virginia. Under the old rule, funding to combat the crisis was divvied out according to population size. This meant that smaller states like West Virginia were getting the short end of the stick, even though we were experiencing the crisis in the most acute way. This is exactly why we pushed hard to change this funding formula so when the money is now divvied out, overdose deaths per capita are taken into account.

Second, the census guides apportionment for representation in Congress and the state legislature. Participating in the census will help maximize the voice that your local community has in federal and state decision making.

Soon, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways:

1. Online.

2. By phone.

3. By mail.

I strongly encourage you to help your community by filling out the census.

You can also earn extra income and help your community by applying for a temporary part-time job with the census. Learn more by visiting www.2020census.gov.

The census only comes around every ten years. This decade, please help West Virginia’s voice be heard. Do your part and take the 2020 census.

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