Heller wants nearly $800,000 to get Nevadans involved in the census | NevadaAppeal.com

Heller wants nearly $800,000 to get Nevadans involved in the census

Secretary of State Dean Heller wants nearly $800,000 in state money next month to help convince Nevadans to stand up and be counted in this year’s census.

Heller told a Legislative subcommittee studying reapportionment that Nevada lost nearly $200 million in federal funding during the past decade because it had one of the nation’s worst rates of participation in the 1990 census.

He said ever family of four that goes uncounted in Nevada costs the state $25,000 over the 10 years until the next census. And that money, he said, has to be made up out of the state treasury.

He said the state needs to “invest” money in convincing people to fill out and return census forms. He said he is asking the governor and the Legislative Interim Finance Committee to approve a $788,400 budget that will support census efforts in both the north and south as well as pay for a $200,000 direct-mail campaign to send practically every resident in the state a letter from the governor emphasizing the importance of the census.

He said the federal government is investing in the census effort – $5 billion nationwide – but that getting every Nevada resident counted is vital to the state.

He asked for the committee’s support in getting the money.

Legislators, however, said they couldn’t give their unqualified support.

“It’s a little difficult to support when we haven’t seen the budgets,” said Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas. She was joined by fellow southern Democrat Chris Giunchigliani and Speaker Joe Dini, D-Yerington, who recommended supporting the concept but asking the Interim Finance Committee to review how the money will be spent.

Committee members agreed.

Heller said his proposal would send $438,400 to the Southern Nevada census committee and $150,000 to its northern counterpart. The idea is to use the money to reach those most difficult to find and count but who often need the very services federal grant money pays for – including the homeless and working poor immigrants to the state.

The remaining $200,000 would be spent on direct mail and other advertising efforts to convince people of how important it is to be counted.

Nevada had one of the nation’s lowest rates of those returning completed census forms in the 1990 census. Those census numbers, according to Nevada Census Director Dave Byerman, are used to determine how the federal government divides up more than $180 billion a year in grants from welfare to environmental money.