What’s at Stake

May 1, 2020

Federal funds make up more than a third of government spending in the state, and about 80 percent of those funds are tied to the census, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The federal government provides a budget for the state based off of its population. With a population of approximately 40 million people, California receives one of the largest amounts of federal funding. The more than $100 billion in federal money the state receives goes for services like public safety, housing, health and human services, education, transportation and environmental protection.

Wesley Hussey, a professor of politics at Sacramento State, said that an accurate count is vital to California. 

“Much of our federal funding is calculated by population formulas,” said Hussey. “The more people counted in California, the more federal funding state and local governments will receive.”

For each person not counted in the census, California will lose an estimated $1,000 multiplied by a 10-year period.

In addition to federal funding, with an inaccurate count of residents, California could lose a member of the House of Representatives for the first time. Currently, California has 53 House seats which is said to drop to 52 if the population size drops.

“California’s population growth has slowed and we are right on the edge of losing a House seat since other states are growing quicker,” said Hussey.

Losing a House seat will also impact the Electoral College and the swing of Democratic and Republican states.


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