Wichita, Kan. – The Kansas Complete Count Committee, created through executive order by Governor Laura Kelly in April to assist the U.S. Census Bureau in promoting participation in the 2020 Census, met for the first time recently in Wichita.
“Every voice is important, and every Kansan must be counted,” Governor Kelly said. “In addition to the amount of federal funding that is on the line, we need an accurate picture of our communities so that we can properly plan for the future. The members of the Complete Count Committee are qualified professionals eager to make sure we have an accurate count.”
Brian McClendon, a Lawrence Democrat, and Joyce Warshaw, a Dodge City Republican, serve as co-chairs of the committee. McClendon is a professor at the University of Kansas and the former vice president of Google and Uber. Warshaw serves on the board of directors for the Kansas League of Municipalities and is the vice mayor of Dodge City.
“We’ve been meeting with stakeholders and recruiting members of our committee for months, so it was wonderful to finally have them all together to formally begin our efforts on Census participation,” Warshaw said. “These efforts are crucial to ensuring we have an accurate count in 2020.”
According to Warshaw, for every person not counted in the 2020 Census, Kansas stands to lose about $2,000 in federal funds per year for 10 years. That funding goes to dozens of programs such as Head Start, KanCare and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
The Census will determine how the federal government distributes over $6 billion in federal funds to Kansas every year.
“Our state receives federal funding for everything from law enforcement to infrastructure to healthcare,” Warshaw said. “Since this affects so many different aspects of life in Kansas, we wanted to make sure our Complete Count Committee included a diverse group of people from across the state representing different communities with different interests.”
McClendon said they had been working with the Governor’s Office and the Kansas Department of Commerce to find and recruit members of the committee. The committee now includes representatives from nonprofit organizations such as Kansas Catholic Charities, Kansas Appleseed, Dane G. Hansen Foundation, El Centro and Kansas Farm Bureau. It also includes elected officials from across the state.
“It was great to see such a broad range of Kansans focused on helping Kansans get counted in the Census,” McClendon said. “It was a very productive session with many stepping up to take on more.”
During the Sept. 10 initial meeting, McClendon urged committee members to reach out to help form local Complete Count Committees in their communities to promote Census participation.
Emily Kelley, Complete Count Committee member and partnership coordinator for Kansas with the U.S. Census Bureau, also invited members to attend the formal openings of Census Bureau field offices in Overland Park and Wichita on Oct. 1. Governor Kelly will be attending the opening of the Overland Park office, while Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers will be at the Wichita opening.