Ricketts Signs Census Support Proclamation After Vetoing 'Complete Count' Effort Last Year
By Becca Costello, NET News
Feb. 3, 2020, 6:30 p.m. ·
Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation Monday encouraging Nebraskans to respond to the upcoming census. Last year Ricketts vetoed a bill that would have created a statewide committee to coordinate census outreach efforts.
The proclamation acknowledges how important the 2020 census is for the next ten years.
Although Nebraska is expected to maintain its three Congressional seats, the results will impact the state’s share of billions of dollars in federal aid.
"The governor putting his support behind the census speaks volumes as far as how the state feels about the census," said Dennis Johnson, Deputy Regional Director in the U.S. Census Bureau Denver Region.
But Ricketts declined to join other states in forming a statewide Complete Count Committee – and then vetoed a bill the Unicameral passed last year that would have created one.
That makes Nebraska one of only three states without a statewide committee, joining South Dakota and Texas. The Census Bureau website says the complete count program is "key to creating awareness in communities all across the country." Statewide commissions in other states often serve as a coordinating partner between smaller, local commissions.
Ricketts said Monday a statewide committee would have been a waste of resources. The measure would have authorized the Nebraska State Data Center, located at the Center for Public Affairs research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, to form the committee on behalf of the state. The program would have raised private funds and would not have pulled from the state budget.
Ricketts says he’s not worried about getting an accurate count.
"Nebraskans are used to doing things differently. We’re the only state in the country with a unicameral and that seems to serve us," Ricketts said. "So I think we can really count on Nebraskans on the local level to be able to get a complete count for the census, because again that’s really where it needs to happen."
There are 25 complete count committees formed by local groups throughout Nebraska.
Most residents will get information about how to respond to the census in early March. Census takers will later go to households that don’t initially respond.
The Census Bureau is anticipating hiring 2,700 Nebraskans for census jobs over the next few months.
Read the full proclamation below: