December 20, 2000
Honorable George W. Bush
President-elect of the United States
State Capitol, Room 2S.1
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711
Dear President-elect Bush:
Congratulations on your hard-fought victory. We applaud your desire for
bipartisanship, and we stand ready to help you achieve that end.
As you know, one of the first issues your Administration will face is how to handle
the release of the 2000 Census results. While we were very encouraged to hear
your senior adviser in Florida, Secretary James Baker, repeatedly endorse the
inexpertiselo of statisticians, we were taken aback by a recent Roll Call article
(December 7, 2000) that your Administration may block the release of statistically
corrected census results to the 50 states.
As Members of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, we urge you not to
prematurely reject the release of corrected data and instead to await the Census
Bureau's decision on this issue, expected in February. To do so would be
patently unfair to people of color, children and others who have been
undercounted at a disproportionately high rate. Just as all Americans deserve to
have their votes counted, all Americans have a fundamental civil right to be
included in our nation's decennial census.
Moreover, a fair and accurate census is needed to ensure that every state and
local community receives its fair share of federal funds over the next decade. As
you know, billions of dollars will be distributed during each year of your
Administration based solely on census data. If the undercount is not corrected,
these funds will not be distributed properly. In fact, nonpartisan studies have
shown that states with the largest relative undercounts Î including Texas and
Florida - would be hit the hardest. For example, Florida would lose about $500
million in federal funds over the next 10 years if all Floridians were not included
in the official census count. Texans would lose more than $1 billion.
For three years, we have been monitoring the 2000 Census. There is general
bipartisan agreement that the Census Bureau has done a masterful job under
difficult circumstances, including lawsuits designed to disrupt the count. Even
with the Census Bureau's best efforts, history shows people of color and children
are likely to be undercounted at a disproportionately high rate.
The upcoming analysis of the differential undercount is the final step in Census
2000 before the official numbers are released. Our hope is that the Census
Bureau's experts will be allowed to do their job without interference and that the
climate of bipartisanship now emerging will not evaporate as it surely would if
such a political decision were made within weeks of your Inauguration.
Gilbert F. Casellas
Everett M. Ehrlich
Cruz M. Bustamante
Lorraine A. Green