perry-thurston_web.jpgFlorida is home to a rich mixture of cultures, backgrounds and experiences.

Our state’s diversity is one of its greatest assets. As Florida prepares to conduct the 2010 U.S. Census, it is critical that we do our best to ensure an accurate count of everyone who lives here.
As a delegate to Florida’s Complete Count Committee, I recognize the critical importance of an accurate Census count. Unfortunately, the Florida Legislature has appropriated less than $3 million for the 2010 Sunshine Census Initiative.

The initiative’s goal is to reach the hard-to-count populations of our state, which include children, migrant workers, university students and people of many backgrounds. It is crucial that these people are counted.

The Census takes place once every 10 years. While the original purpose of the Census was to determine the number of seats each state should have in the U.S. House of Representatives, today the count helps determine the amount of federal funding that states, counties and cities receive.

Other important matters are determined by the Census, including planning for schools, highways and other public services. States also rely on Census data for reapportionment and redistricting, particularly in the redesign of congressional and legislative district boundaries.

For Florida to be a model of conducting the Census, it is vital that at least $10 million is allocated. This would be money well spent. Every additional person counted is important to ensuring that Florida gets its share of about $400 billion in federal funds distributed to local, state and tribal governments, based on Census data.

The Florida House of Representatives and Senate should make it a priority to support appropriate funding to meet the goals of Florida’s Complete Count Committee.

Perry Thurston is a Democrat in the Florida House of Representatives. He represents District 93, which includes portions of  Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, Wilton Manors and Oakland Park.