Morton Marcus: How to influence Indiana’s future

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Do you linger over your morning coffee wondering how to do something meaningful? While the commercials are on TV during your favorite program, do you ponder the current condition of your county, our state and nation? Then listen up! You can make a difference within the next two weeks.

VOTE in the Nov. 5 election. Vote for local officials who show some energy in their campaigns. We’ll need that energy in the coming months of 2020.

Your community/county should have a vigorous Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census. Local effort to encourage participation in the Census is one important means of protecting our Constitutional Rights and our self-interest. Every Indiana resident must be counted.

Why? The number of persons recorded in our communities statewide will determine our representation in U.S. House of Representatives in the 117th Congress. Right now, we have nine representatives. It could go down again, as it has four times in the last 100 years.

The number of people recorded in your county, city, town and neighborhood will determine the balance of power in the state legislature and in your local councils of government.

Although Indiana was estimated to have gained over 208,000 people between the 2010 Census and 2018 estimates, our increase of 3.2 percent was well below the national average of 6.3 percent.

In 2010, Indiana had 2.19 percent of the U.S. population, a figure which dropped to 2.13 percent in 2018. That seems like a trivial decline, but it was the tenth-greatest loss of “market share” among the 50 states.

While Indiana does not seem to be on the very cusp of losing a representative, ours neighbors Illinois and Ohio may not be as fortunate.

Within Indiana, over 50 percent of the population gain from 2010-18 was in just two counties. Hamilton and Marion. Add in Boone, Hendricks, Johnson and Hancock and you have more than three-quarters of the population growth in the Hoosier Holyland this decade.

The number of state representatives and senators will remain the same in the General Assembly, but the dominance of the Indianapolis Metro area will increase. Power will continue to shift toward central Indiana. Therefore, counties in other parts of the state have a major incentive to have every resident, legal or illegal, counted.

Not only will the 2020 Census influence political power, but it will have a strong bearing on the distribution of money allocated by the General Assembly. The 58 counties estimated to have lost population between 2010 and 2018, in particular, need to push for a complete count.

Every resident counts. Every resident needs to be counted. Every voter needs to elect officials who are ready to press for a complete count.

Morton Marcus is an economist, formerly with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Send comments to [email protected].