CEDARVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – New projections show the 2020 census could negatively impact the state of Ohio over the next decade. The state’s rate of growth is slower than in other states, meaning it could lose a seat in Congress.
Each year the federal government doles out between $700 and 800 billion in grants, and the amounts often correlate with population. So this year’s census could cost the state of Ohio big bucks.
Dr. Mark Caleb Smith, the Director of the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville University, says, “The parts of the population that’ll notice the biggest difference will be dramatically hit by it.”
The population of many midwestern states, Ohio included, is growing slower than several southern states, where the population is exploding. That means the state of Ohio could lose a representative in Congress.
Dr. Smith says, “What we’ve seen, really, is distribution of political power from the Midwest down to the southeast and southwest.” But standards for awarding federal grants could also be affected, and people in the state could feel those effects more immediately. “Everything from education funding to school lunches, to healthcare funding, something like Medicare. All of that is going to be affected by the numbers they get from the census.”
Ohio relies on drug treatment services and job placement programs while battling the opioid crisis, but even people who don’t use those services could see a difference. “Even local services like emergency, fire, EMT, those things are distributed based on census numbers, as well. How many EMT stations do we need, how many fire trucks do we need? Those things are going to be distributed simply by how many people are in a given city, town, village, whatever it may be.”
The state may not be prepared to make up for the losses in federal funding. Dr. Smith says, “It’s possible the state could step into that gap, but usually if you see population decline, the state’s going to have fewer resources as well, so it becomes something of a cycle.”
If Ohio loses a Congressional seat, the state’s general assembly will decide how the districts will be contracted.