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2000 census… Undercount could cost state $12.5 million

By Staff
Aug. 27, 2001
JACKSON (AP) State congressional delegates will work to see that Mississippi receives all the funds it deserves after a report estimates that 35,000 Mississippi residents were not counted in the 2000 census, one lawmaker says.
Fourth District U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows says the report, prepared for the U.S. Census Monitoring Board by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, may lead to congressional action.
With an additional 35,000 residents, Mississippi would qualify for $12.5 million in federal funds over the next 10 years.
The report predicts a $4.1 billion loss in 31 states, with California losing $1.5 billion and Texas losing $1 billion. Los Angeles County, Calif., and Harris County, Texas, are expected to lose $636 million and $234 million, respectively.
I will move to see that Mississippi receives all the funds our citizens deserve,'' Shows said. I would expect other members of our state delegation and a broad coalition from across the country to work together because other states could lose much more than Mississippi.''
The Census Bureau recommended that numbers not be adjusted for redrawing congressional, state and local political districts. But Congress could move that adjusted numbers be used for funding purposes, Shows said.
Mississippi's 10 percent growth rate did not keep pace with other states, causing the loss of one of five house seats.
Third District U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering said Congress does not want to see states lose funding for programs like Medicaid, foster care, social service block grants and substance abuse prevention.
Congress could correct and address this issue,'' Pickering said.
But Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said the state may have to find a way to absorb the loss of $349 for each uncounted Mississippian.
An accurate census count means a great deal to our state,'' Musgrove said. While an undercount may mean we will lose federal dollars, we will be looking at innovative ways to manage federal funding in other areas, such as health care.''
Janice Broome Brooks, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, said the agency will continue to serve Mississippians with or without the $12.5 million.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services promotes an integrated and holistic approach to serving our clients,'' Brooks said. In terms of the provision of services and programs, we are committed to thinking outside of the box."
MDHS will continue to maximize all available resources with the expectation that families, children and seniors in all 82 counties are provided in the most efficient and effective way possible.''
Francis Rullan, spokesman for the division of Medicaid in the governor's office, said how the state defines a person's potential as a Medicaid recipient is not linked to the census count.
Our federal match is determined solely by the population's average income in Mississippi,'' Rullan said.
Rullan said there is no data available to support the premise that since most of those who don't participate in the census are low income, it raises the average income and lowers Medicaid dollars to the state.
But Gilbert Casellas, presidential co-chair of the Monitoring Board, said the report presents compelling evidence'' of the potential harm caused by a census undercount.
The undercount will cost Mississippi millions of dollars in funds that are earmarked for programs that largely serve the state's most disadvantaged,'' Casellas said.