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Think census doesn't matter? Undercount cost Texas big

Think of it as the equivalent of tabulating Texas and forgetting Arlington.

An estimated 373,567 people in Texas were uncounted in the 2000 Census, second only to the 522,796 that were missed in California.

The undercount cost Texas about $1 billion in lost federal funds, according to a PriceWaterhouseCooper report on the census. Fort Worth, where the undercount was pegged at 24,661, lost $62.3 million in federal funds, the report said.

As the U.S. Census begins mailing its national questionnaire this week, it pays to be counted because power and money are at stake, says Gabriel Sanchez, regional census director for Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The once-a-decade head count determines congressional reapportionment, and State Demographer Karl Eschbach believes that Texas, which has been the big gainer in U.S. population in recent years, will be the overall winner in added political clout. He predicts that Texas will add four seats in the U.S. House.

A new report illustrates the fiscal power of the count.

In 2008, $447 billion in federal funds were distributed based on the 2000 Census and later updates, according to The Brookings Institution, a center-left research organization in Washington.

A Brookings study shows that 80 percent of the money tied to the census goes to state governments, many of which, like Texas, are struggling with budget shortfalls, said Andrew Reamer, who wrote the report.

In Texas, Reamer said, nearly $1,000 in Medicaid funds will be returned to the state for every person counted. "The key point here is that census participation means more money locally," he said.

Read more of this story at Star-Telegram.com

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