SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed into law a bill that will provide $8 million in emergency funding for statewide U.S. Census preparation efforts.
The first-term Democratic governor said it’s crucial as many New Mexico residents as possible be counted in the once-per-decade census, which is used to draw political boundary lines and determine federal spending for various programs.
“This is our money,” said Lujan Grisham, who cited state highway spending as one area that could be impacted by the census’s results.
The $8 million in emergency funding is in addition to $3.5 million that was included in this year’s $7 billion budget bill. It will be used to launch a statewide public awareness campaign and provide resources to community-based organizations with outreach efforts, among other areas.
The bill, Senate Bill 4, passed both legislative chambers without opposition and took effect immediately upon being signed.
It’s just the second bill to be signed into law so far this session. A legislative “feed bill” that pays for legislative session expenses, including staff salaries, is the other.
Even a 1% undercount of New Mexico’s population during the U.S. Census could mean a loss of an estimated $780 million in federal funding over the next decade, according to Finance and Administration Secretary Olivia Padilla-Jackson.
Currently, New Mexico gets roughly $7.8 billion annually in federal dollars from 16 programs, including money for Medicaid, food stamps, early childhood education and road repairs.