Lawmakers voice concern regarding lagging 2020 Census response rates in eastern Washington

Sen. Padden and Rep. Jenkin question why no state partnership funds went directly to Hispanic outreach organizations

On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, and Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser, sent a letter to former Gov. Gary Locke, Chair of Washington Complete Count Committee, and the Washington State Office of Financial Management, voicing their strong concerns about the need for additional efforts to promote eastern Washington participation in the 2020 U.S. Census.

In their letter, the two lawmakers, who serve as the House and Senate Republican members on the state Complete Count Committee, write:

“The Legislature provided some $20 million for the state to encourage participation in the 2020 decennial census undertaken by the U.S. Census Bureau. While we applaud the efforts of the Washington State Complete Count Committee to date, the response rates in eastern Washington are lagging those in western Washington. The apparent reasons for this include the Census Bureau’s operational plan and the unprecedented disruption related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Padden and Jenkin also question why, despite their growing population in the state, no state funds were allocated directly to Hispanic organizations to help increase the participation rate among that key demographic:

“The grant program made census partners out of many state and local organizations, yet it has been frustrating to know that none of the state grants were awarded directly to Hispanic organizations, when eastern Washington is home to such a large number of Hispanic communities. …[G]iven the size of Hispanic communities throughout our state it is surprising that direct funding could not have somehow been accomplished.”

The letter concludes with a call for the Complete Count Committee to adopt an updated operational plan that dedicates remaining funding towards underrepresented rural and Hispanic communities in eastern Washington.


Washington State House Republican Communications