Kentuckians, we are facing unprecedented times. Thanks to your sacrifices and the leadership of Gov. Andy Beshear and all of Team Kentucky, we will get through this together. As we thoughtfully look forward to rebuilding following COVID-19, we need your help. To build a stronger Kentucky, we need you to fill out the 2020 Census. This simple, patriotic act will greatly impact the commonwealth for the next decade. And here’s why.

We file our Census report once a decade to get a true population count here in Kentucky and across the U.S. It’s not just for the purpose of data collection. It is used to allocate more than $675 billion in federal funding for critical programs each year, it determines congressional representation and can be an indicator for investments in our communities.

In 2010, we in eastern Kentucky missed out on some important opportunities because we were undercounted. We cannot let that happen again and we’ve got to step up because our response-rate is lagging. So I challenge you to catch up, eastern Kentucky. Complete your census now.

By doing so, you will help determine where new clinics, schools and roads will be built. You will help determine how much funding we get for education, school lunch programs, child care and Head Start, building brighter futures for our children. You will help fellow Kentuckians gain access to life-sustaining programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

To put it simply, if we don’t get an accurate population count, we will get less money for education, less money for our hospitals and less money to improve our infrastructure and roadways. Our state needs this funding to move forward, to rebuild and to thrive.

Your responses will determine how many representatives we have in Congress and how legislative districts are drawn here in the commonwealth.

Businesses will use the results to make decisions about where to invest, where to open new stores, factories and where to expand and recruit employees. This could mean new jobs and economic growth right here.

You know I am a proud eastern Kentuckian. I don’t want to face the consequences of being undercounted for another decade. We deserve better. And we know eastern Kentucky needs federal funding, investment and representation.

So I urge you to fill out your Census while you’re healthy at home. I completed mine. I hope you will do the same and fulfill your patriotic duty. You can do so online at 2020Census.gov, by calling 844-330-2020 or by filling out and mailing the copy sent to your home.

Do this for you, do this for your fellow Kentuckians, do this for our next generation because all of our futures rely on it. If we want to build a better Kentucky, every response and every dollar will count.

I know these are difficult times, but I take comfort that the future of Kentucky is in our hands. I believe in you, eastern Kentucky, and I know you are up to my challenge. Let’s show everyone the Team Kentucky spirit by sacrificing a little of our time to make a stronger Kentucky for years to come.

ROCKY ADKINS is the senior adviser to Gov. Andy Beshear.

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