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Monday, January 20, 2020

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Governor Cuomo Announces Creation of Census Council Co-Chaired by Martin Luther King III, Lucy Liu and Lin-Manuel Miranda

Gov Cuono Flickr Page Photo by Mike Groll.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the creation of the Census Council, which will be co-chaired by Martin Luther King III, Lucy Liu and Lin-Manuel Miranda, to ensure every New Yorker is counted in the upcoming 2020 census. The Council will act as the state’s coordinating arm to achieve a complete census count using the information learned from the state’s Complete Count Commission and support from state, local and foundation funding resources. The Governor will also propose an additional $10 million in this year’s budget to ensure a fair and complete count of every New Yorker in the census. The additional funding will bring the state’s financial support to up to $70 million for the 2020 Census. 

The Governor also announced the new council will hold conferences to raise awareness about the Census and engage as many advocates, community based organizations, community leaders and local officials as possible to ensure every New Yorker is counted. The new council will work with these stakeholders, using the information gathered by the Complete Count Commission, to coordinate efforts, deploy available resources and oversee outreach efforts in hard-to-reach communities to ensure the count actually happens.

“As this federal administration continues to disenfranchise immigrant communities and use every means possible to stop them from filling out this year’s Census questionnaire, we are taking aggressive actions to ensure every single New Yorker is counted,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new council will lead the charge coordinating stakeholders so we can reach our most difficult to count communities and help ensure New York is accurately represented and gets the federal funding we need and deserve.”

“Being counted in the Census may well be second only to voting when it comes to citizen action in the Democrat process,”said Martin Luther King III. “Unfortunately, people of color are the ones most often undercounted, which leads to negative consequences for their communities. I am proud to work with Governor Cuomo to ensure every New Yorker, even those that are hardest to reach, is counted in the 2020 Census.” ​

“I am proud to work with Governor Cuomo, Lin Manuel Miranda and Martin Luther King III to be part of the Census Council, which will raise awareness in all communities and encourage every New Yorker to participate in the 2020 Census,” said Lucy Liu. “The Census only happens every ten years, and it is essential we are doing all we can as a State to make sure every single New Yorker is counted and our State is fairly represented at the federal level. "

“Representation matters and is vital for the fair allocation of federal funds to all of our communities,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda. “I want to thank Governor Cuomo for creating the Census Council and as co-chair, I encourage my neighbors to stand up and be counted and I hope that everyone across the nation will do the same. We’re at the start of a new decade and an accurate census makes a huge difference to all of us.”

The New York State Complete Count Commission was created to inform and help direct the State's efforts in the 2020 Census. The Commission analyzed previous Census undercounts and recommended ways to ensure a full and complete count for the 2020 Census.

Governor Cuomo has already taken several actions to support a complete census count in New York State this year. The FY 2020 Budget authorized up to $20 million for outreach and education efforts to ensure all New Yorkers are counted as part of the census. Of the $20 million made available through the FY 2020 Budget, $15 million is being distributed to all 62 counties as well as the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers. Each locality that responded to the Request for Expressions of Interest that was released on December 4, 2019 will then submit a plan outlining how they will use the funds, and funding awards will be approved in later January. The remaining $5 million will be deployed over the coming year to target specific communities where further outreach will be necessary as 2020 Census questionnaire filing results become available.

Additionally, dozens of other State agencies and authorities, CUNY, and SUNY will use their resources and ongoing contact with the public to develop and deploy up to $40 million to get residents to fill out the Census using existing resources. These state entities, including the Departments of Labor, Motor Vehicles, Agriculture and Markets; the offices of Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and People with Developmental Disabilities; Empire State Development; and the Division of Veterans Affairs will conduct outreach and provide Census-related information across their millions of contacts with the public.

Examples of how State entities will leverage their resources include, but are not limited to:

  • Because the U.S. Census Bureau is only providing translation for a fraction of the languages spoken in New York State, State employees already trained to use the Language Line, will provides on the spot translation services for more than 200 languages. 

  • The Department of Labor, which reaches more than 9 million workers, 550,000 businesses and serves more than 500,000 New Yorkers directly, will open all 96 of its Career Centers as census assistance centers where members of the public can securely complete their 2020 Census questionnaire online. Career Centers will also display Census information on TV monitors in the waiting room, posters and handouts in multiple languages. The Department of Labor has also already promoted Census Bureau jobs at more than 100 jobs fairs and other recruiting events it hosts in every region of the state.

  • Every New Yorker lives within 30 miles of one of SUNY's 64 campuses and CUNY adds 25 campuses across New York City's five boroughs, all of which can serve as nodes that combine outreach efforts with resources. The two university systems, including community colleges, will also collaborate with the State to ensure their nearly 700,000 students are counted. For instance, Empire State College will open dozens of computer labs across the state for members of the public to use to complete the Census as well as use its campuses to allow the Census Bureau to train employees for the Census.

  • The Department of Motor Vehicles has 27 state-run district offices and 94 county-run filed offices across the state through which it reaches about 12 million customers annually with 19.5 million connecting with the Department through its website. Census information will be displayed and distributed at every location and staff will be equipped to promote the Census in discussions with all visitors. It will also tap its database of approximately 4 million email addresses.  

The State has also worked to add over 225,000 addresses to the Census Bureau's Master Address file. In addition, following leadership from New York State, local governments added and corrected several hundred thousand addresses. This multi-layered, multi-year effort produced nation-leading results. Governor Cuomo also invested $500 million to leverage $1.4 billion from the private sector to expand high-speed Internet to all New Yorkers with nearly 90% of the funding already awarded.

The State's support for the Census count builds on findings and recommendations released in October by the New York State Complete Count Commission, which held 10 public hearings and reviewed hundreds of comments, expert testimonies and in-depth analysis of previous census results. The Commission found that the 2020 Census faces unprecedented challenges. For the first time, the Census will be conducted primarily online, and while the Trump Administration failed in its effort to include a citizenship question on the Census, its attempt to do so spread fear among immigrant communities. 

The Trump administration and Congress have also failed to fully fund Census operations in the years leading up to 2020.  As a result of that failure, the Census Bureau has been forced to cut costs, shifting responsibility for on-the-ground work necessary to drive participation in the 2020 Census from the federal government to state and local partners. The number of U.S. Census Bureau field offices in New York has dropped from 35 in 2010 to 21 in 2020. The newly formed Census Council will help fill the gap from the federal cuts and inaction.

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