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Census Numbers Will Impact Pennsylvania's Clout And Money In Decade Ahead

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KDKA's Jon Delano has more on what the census numbers mean going forward.

Video Transcript

- Pennsylvania's 2020 population is now over 13 million residents. That's the good news from the US Census Bureau. The bad news is the state didn't grow as fast as other states. As political editor Jon Delano reports, that will cost Pennsylvania in the years ahead.

JON DELANO: On the surface, it looks good. Pennsylvania grew 2.4% over the decade. But in this numbers game, it's not good enough. And it will impact the state's political clout and the federal dollars we get.

JAY COSTA: As a result, fewer federal will make the way here to Pennsylvania to be distributed to Pennsylvania programs. And that's one of the major concerns that we have to deal with.

GUY RESCHENTHALER: Going from 18 Congress members to 17, that means we've diminished our voice as a congressional delegation. That's a big deal.

JON DELANO: Both Republican Guy Reschenthaler and Democrat Jay Costa agree. The first batch of census figures were not great. But Costa thinks there may have been an undercount during the pandemic under the Trump administration.

JAY COSTA: I believe that we have grown greater to what they have said we have grown as a Commonwealth in terms of the number of our population. And I believe that there are concerns that have been raised, given the nature of the barriers that were put into place through the census process in 2020.

JON DELANO: Reschenthaler dismisses that, blaming state policies for slow population growth.

GUY RESCHENTHALER: We have one of the highest corporate income taxes in the United States. We also have a personal income tax. We have a sales tax. And we also have a regulatory environment that makes it very difficult to expand or move your business in.

JON DELANO: The most immediate impact will come when a special commission redistricts 253 state Senate and House districts and the General Assembly and governor create 17 congressional districts.

JAY COSTA: My hope is that we can get districts drawn by January at the latest.

JON DELANO: That requires an already-delayed second batch of community race and age numbers by mid-August. If that slips, the May 2022 primary could be affected. As for losing that member of Congress, that's a done deal. Although New York lost its last congressperson because it was shy just 89 people, it was different here.

SUE COPELLA: Pennsylvania would have needed an additional 335,165 people to keep that seat in Congress.

JON DELANO: With 13 million people, we are still the fifth-largest state in the nation. And that will keep us relevant in national politics and the electoral college, at least for the next decade. Jon Delano, KDKA News.