Delay In Receiving Census Figures Will Delay Reapportionment, Next Year's Primary, And Proper Distribution Of Federal Dollars

State officials are warning that the delay by the U.S. Census Bureau in releasing 2020 population figures could move next year's May primary to July. It could also impact how much Pennsylvanians and the state, counties and cities get in federal aid; KDKA's Jon Delano reports.

Video Transcript

- The delay by the US Census Bureau in releasing the new population figures could move the primary election in May of 2022 to summer. And as Jon Delano reports, it could also impact federal aid for our state, counties and cities.

JON DELANO: Every 10 years we count people. Those numbers determine the size and shape of our legislative and congressional districts for the next decade. And importantly, they also determine who gets what when it comes to federal programs. All that is getting delayed. Last year 2020 census figures were supposed to be released by March 31st, but that's not happening.

JAY COSTA: You know, waiting until September or maybe the end of September, into October. And that's maybe best case scenario. So, that puts us in a real bind.

JON DELANO: The top Republican and Democrat in the state Senate say the same thing. The failure to turn over these numbers means a delay in drawing 253 new states Senate and House districts and 17 new congressional districts, down from the current 18.

JAY KORMAN: I really believe there's a significant chance that we will likely move the May primary in 2022 probably back into June, maybe even into July.

JON DELANO: Districts may not be drawn until spring of 2022 and lawmakers say voters need time to learn their new districts before voting.

JAY COSTA: Clearly, in congressional we're going to have two congressmen in the same district one way or another. And so, it's going to be a lot of change.

JON DELANO: Another problem, census data is used to determine who gets how much in medical assistance, food stamps, highway construction, student Pell grants, school lunches, Head Start and dozens of other federal programs.

JAY KORMAN: A number of those pots of money are triggered based upon census and population. And that's what's going to drive dollars out to Pennsylvania, that's what's going to drive dollars out of the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

JON DELANO: Both senators Jay Korman and Jay Costa say it's important for the Census Bureau to get the numbers right, not fast. But this delay will take a toll. Jon Delano, KDKA News.