Census figures mean lost voice, money for state

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published March 1, 2001  | March 2001 issue

Recently released state population figures from the Census Bureau will likely mean a loss of one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for Wisconsin. Although the state added about 650,000 people from 1990 to 1999, it grew more slowly than fast-growing states in the West and South.

Wisconsin grew at roughly the same rate as the entire nation—about 10 percent—since the 1990 Census, but it would have needed to add another 110,000 in the latest Census count to retain that seat. In 1990, the state came within 27,000 people of losing a congressional seat.

The loss of representation will translate into lost political clout in Washington, but possibly more tangible is the potential loss of federal spending in about 40 grant programs whose allocations are distributed to states based on proportional population, according to a state official.

All told, state officials said the federal government sent $625 million to state and local governments in Wisconsin last year for a variety of projects, including community centers, transportation, energy and housing assistance, and medical care for the elderly. Although that amount is less than 1 percent of Wisconsin's gross state product, a decrease could affect currently funded programs.

Ronald A. Wirtz