State not helping fund Austin/Travis County's Complete Count Committee

In the spring, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt introduced their "Complete Count Committee" making sure every person in the city and county is tallied in the 2020 Census.

"Travis County receives about $6.4 billion in federal funding over the 10-year period and we've determined that for every person we miss we lose several thousand dollars in federal funding," said Travis County Tax-Assessor Collector and Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant.

Elfant, who is on the committee, says the goal is reaching harder-to-count parts of the population like students, homeless and immigrants.

"Many are fearful about completing the U.S. Census and what people need to understand is the citizenship question will not be on the 2020 Census and the information that is compiled by the U.S. Census cannot be used by any individual or organization for any purpose. It is sealed for 73 years," Elfant said.

The Census also determines political representation.

"Texas is estimated to receive as many as four additional Congressional seats this time which would be huge," he said.

The State of Texas decided not to fund Complete Count Committees, something they could have done.  

"I think that's unfortunate and very short-sighted. So the cities and counties are going to be forced to make up the difference and I'm sure in Travis County we'll do a fine job but it will cost more and be more difficult," Elfant said.  

Travis County says along with the City of Austin, they've committed to spend up to $200,000 together on a coordinator for the Complete Count Committee. The rest of the funds will come from private donations on top of volunteer work.

"If the State had kicked in money, we would be able to make our resources go farther than we will obviously," Elfant said.

Travis County Republican Party communications director Andy Hogue doesn't feel cities and counties should be going above and beyond like this.

"Let's not kid ourselves, we're about to redraw the maps after what? The Census. So naturally they want the illegal immigrants that tend to vote Democrat, they want people that their paperwork is in question so we have to make sure that we're not spending money on just drawing people out of the woodwork to be in the population count, we want an accurate count," Hogue said.

Travis County says the coordinator for the Complete Count group has been hired and will be introduced to the Commissioners Court on Tuesday.