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Despite perception, Idaho ranks below middle of states for number of local governments

A new set of data out from the Census Bureau, the "2012 Census of Governments," shows that it's not necessarily true that every bump on every log in Idaho is incorporated, or that because Idahoans hate government so much they have lots and lots of it, in the form of what seem to be a myriad of special local taxing districts. Actually, Idaho ranks slightly below the middle among the 50 states for the number of local government units it has - 1,161, ranking 28th. That's for 44 counties, 200 cities, 799 special districts and 118 independent school districts, according to the census data.

That does, however, mean Idaho ranks 12th in the nation for its number of special districts. And we of course rank much lower, 39th among the 50 states, for population. We rank 39th for the number of cities, the same as our ranking for population; and 34th for the number of counties.

So who ranked at the far ends in this comparison? Illinois had the most local governments of any state: 6,968, about 2,000 more than second-place Pennsylvania. Hawaii had the fewest local governments of any state at 21, easily eclipsing second-to-last-place Rhode Island, which had 134, and third-to-last Nevada at 190.

Idaho school funding again ranks 50th in nation

Idaho's school spending per pupil ranks 50th in the nation for a second straight year, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census, while Washington's is 32nd, one place worst than last year's ranking of 31st. Washington education officials bemoaned the ranking as too low, but Idaho's said their lower ranking wasn't particularly concerning; Idaho bested only Utah.

"Funding is a factor in education but it’s not the most important factor," said Idaho State Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa McGrath, "and it is not the factor that determines the quality of an education system." She noted that Idaho - like Washington - has higher than average student test scores. The U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progess shows eighth-graders in both states scored above average in reading, math and science in 2011. "In Idaho, our state spends less per student compared to most other states, but our students continually outperform students across the United States in reading, math and in science," McGrath said. "It’s clear that Idaho is doing well spending its resources effectively and efficiently to benefit Idaho students."

The census figures, which are drawn from the 2009-2010 school year, also include rankings for school spending per $1,000 in per-capita income for each state. By that measure, Idaho improved slightly from last year's ranking of 41st, coming in 38th. But it's still far below where the state ranked back in 2001, when it was 17th. Former Idaho state chief economist Mike Ferguson, now the head of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, said that echoes a report he released in April that found that the share of Idaho's personal income that goes to schools dropped 23 percent from 2000 to 2013; his report dubbed that drop "a stunning reduction in the state's commitment to public schools." Ferguson said Wednesday, "The fact is that we've been essentially disinvesting in children." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Census: More People Reach Age 90

Americans are more likely than ever to reach age 90. First-ever census figures on the 90-plus population show it’s nearly tripled in size since 1980, to 1.9 million. One of the nation’s fastest growing groups, the 90-plus population is projected to reach 8 million by midcentury, representing 2 percent of the U.S. population. That’s a big change from over a century ago, when fewer than 100,000 people reached age 90. The numbers show the majority of those age 90 or older had one or more disabilities. They also were much more likely than those ages 65-89 to live in poverty. The report also noted the unique challenges created by people living longer, including added costs to the already-strained Medicare and Social Security programs/Associated Press. (Don Sausser photo, of Coeur d'Alene's Betty Owens on her 104th birthday on Veterans Day)

Question: Do you expect to live to age 90?

NI Grays Faster Than Rest Of Idaho

Item: Median age jumps in N. Idaho census data: Vacation homes also multiplied since 2000/Alison Boggs, SR

More Info: North Idaho is going gray faster than the rest of the state, numbers released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau show. The median age in each of Idaho’s five northern counties rose much more over the past 10 years than did the statewide average. In Kootenai County, the median age rose from 36 in 2000 to almost 39 in 2010. In Bonner County, the jump was from 40.8 to 45.8. In Shoshone County, it went from 41.8 to 46.2. In Boundary County, it rose from 38.3 to 42.8 and in Benewah County, from 39.2 to 44.8. Statewide, the median age in 2010 was 34.6, up from 33.2 in 2000.

Question: How has a higher percentage of older folks affected North Idaho?

Census: North Idaho population aging

North Idaho is aging faster than the rest of the state, numbers released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau show. The median age in each of Idaho’s five northern counties rose much more over the past 10 years than did the statewide average; in Kootenai County, the median age rose from 36 in 2000 to almost 39 in 2010. In Bonner County, the jump was from 40.8 to 45.8. In Shoshone County, it went from 41.8 to 46.2. In Boundary County, it rose from 38.3 to 42.8 and in Benewah County, from 39.2 to 44.8. Statewide, the median age in 2010 was 34.6, up from 33.2 in 2000. You can read S-R reporter Alison Boggs' full story here, and check our our interactive, searchable Idaho census data site here.

Where are people moving to and from? This Forbes map shows 2008 patterns

We love any decent web visualization that explains interesting trends or developments. This map, developed for Forbes.com, nicely illustrates the movement of U.S. residents to and from different areas of the country during 2008.

The link is  here.

The map takes some time to load initially.

By clicking on the county you want, the resulting black or red lines illustrate the relative flow of population, to or from that location.

Click, for instance, on Kootenai County to see where people there have moved from.

My only quibble is that it's not fully up-to-date. It would be even better to have a data map for the years 2007-2010.

Census quick hits: Spokane’s No. 2; all Congressional districts must shrink

Some quick hits on the 2010 Census data as we work furiously to answer the Flakey Foont question "What does it all mean?"

Spokane remains the Avis of Washington cities, with Tacoma dropping into a more distant third. Spokane is at 208,916, Tacoma is at 198,397. (Seattle, not that anyone in Eastern Washington much cares, is at 608,660.)

Spokane County is the fourth largest county in the state, after King, Pierce and Snohomish. It has 471,221 residents, about 46,000 more than Clark County, although Clark grew nearly twice as fast over the last 10 years.

When the boundaries are redrawn, the average congressional district in Washington will have 672,454 residents. And we'll  have 10 instead of the current nine.

All the state's congressional districts have too many people right now. Eastern Washington's 5th District has 723,609 people, which is 51,155 too many. (All those fives seem to be working together.)

Central Washington is clearly growing much faster than Eastern Washington. The 4th Congressional District has 774,409 people, which is 101,955 too many.  Only suburban King and Pierce counties, and southwest Washington's 3rd District grew faster.

Click here to read more about the latest census figures.

Man rejects plea deal in Census gun case

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A St. Maries man accused of firing his shotgun over the car of a U.S. Census worker last year has rejected a deal from prosecutors that would have reduced the charge to disturbing the peace.

Richard L. Powell, 54, is charged with exhibition or use of a deadly weapon.

His attorney, David Lohman, says Powell does not intend to accept the plea from the Benewah County prosecutor's office.

Powell is accused of shooting over the Census worker's car as he left Powell's property on March 3.

"My client is looking forward to his day in court," Lohman told The Coeur d'Alene Press.

The worker tried to deliver Powell the population-county questionnaire, but Powell told him repeatedly to leave. When the Census worker told Powell he would leave the questionnaire outside, Powell went into his house, came back outside and fired the weapon, according to court documents.

The census worker told sheriff's deputies that Powell had said "he did not want Federalies on his property" and that "his name is Rick Powell and he means business."

Benewah County Prosecutor Doug Payne said his motivation for offering a lesser offense is to avoid confusing language in the Idaho statute regarding exhibition or use of a deadly weapon.

According to the statute, exhibition or use of a deadly weapon identifies people who use or draw any deadly weapon unnecessarily in the presence of two or more people.

Confusion on whether "the two or more" includes the alleged weapon user can be argued either way at trial.

"I just wish we could get the exhibition statute cleaned up," Payne said. "It creates problems at trial."

A trial date in the case has not yet been set.

It’s official: 10 seats in US House for WA

OLYMPIA — While we've all been proceeding on the assumption that Washington will get a tenth congressional seat this year, it hasn't really been official.

As in not signed, sealed and delivered official from the folks who have the ultimate say in such things, the U.S. House of Representatives.

But the Washington Secretary of State's office now has in its hot collective hands a sealed notice from the Clerk of the House, stating Washington shall be entitled in the 113th Congress (which starts in 2013) and each succeeding congress through 2022, to

TEN REPRESENTATIVES in the House of Representatives.

Capital letters are the clerk's. Not sure if all caps in official documents is like shouting with all caps in an e-mail.

Census: Idaho incomes see big drop

Idaho families saw their take-home pay drop nearly 5 percent last year – one of the steepest declines in the nation. New reports today from the U.S. Census Bureau show that median income in Idaho fell by 4.9 percent from 2008 to 2009. By comparison, income fell 1.7 percent for Washington households and declined 2.9 percent nationally. Based on the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Surveys, the median household income was $44,926 in Idaho, $56,548 in Washington and, nationwide, $50,221. The new data also shows Idaho’s poverty rate is up, and Idaho women are among the nation’s lowest-earning; you can read our full story here at spokesman.com.

Idaho Education: We’re No. 50!

Idaho long has ranked low compared to other states in per-pupil education spending. The latest U.S. Census report shines additional light on that: Idaho ranks 50th (out of 51 states plus the District of Columbia) in per-pupil spending (Utah is last), and when state spending on schools is compared to personal income in the state, Idaho still ranks low at 41st (while Utah rises to 25th). The census report, which gathered data from all public elementary and secondary school systems in the nation, is based on 2008 data, so it’s from long before this year’s legislative decision to slash $128 million from Idaho’s school budget/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: What type of schooling do/did your children receive — public, public charter, private, home school, virtual school, etc.?

Rural Idaho loses residents

The number of people moving out of rural Idaho increased between mid-2008 and mid-2009 as the recession reached into every corner of the state.

The census roadshow

Mountain View Elementary third-grader Jenna Whitfield listens to her teacher explain the importance of the 2010 census during a field trip to visit the 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour.

Ryan Eaton visited the Coeur d’Alene Public Library on Tuesday afternoon during a school field trip to learn more about the 2010 U.S. census. The kindergartener said his family’s census form arrived Monday in the mail.

“I filled it out with my dad,” said Ryan, who is 6. “We filled it out this morning.”

That’s just what census workers want to hear as the 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour hits the Inland Northwest this week. The traveling display is an attempt to educate the public about the importance of mailing back the questionnaires for the once-a-decade count of Americans. Read more.

Here’s what Idaho Escapee has to say about the census:

By now, most of you have received Census Packets in the mail, saying that you’re under penalty of law if you don’t fill it out. I got so hopping mad, I wrote the Seattle Branch of the Census, and told ‘em that they’re coming across as very heavy-handed in demanding we fill out the Census forms!

They can come and get me if they want. I left my address with ‘em so they can either send me more nasty notes, or God forbid, an apology to everyone nationwide, for the strong-arm tactics they’re throwing at us citizens. It’s just plain RUDE. So am I making a mountain out of a molehill here, or am I justified feeling the way I do, about this?

Well?

What bad times are doing to us…

The recession and high unemployment rates are altering how Idaho residents live, according to new data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau: More families have both parents working or looking for work; more households have had extended family members move in; more grandparents are raising their grandchildren; and 17.8 percent of Idahoans had no health insurance in 2008, the 12th highest in the nation. You can read more here at spokesman.com.

Recession prompts rural Idaho residents to stay put

Rural Idaho residents have been staying put during the current recession, unlike during the previous recession, when they moved in large numbers to the state’s urban areas. “The length and depth of the current recession … has severely impeded the ability, and the rationale, for people to move,” Idaho’s Department of Labor reported. This according to a state analysis of the latest U.S. Census figures for city populations. Until the current downturn, Idaho had been seeing a steady migration from its rural areas to its urban ones, a trend that was even more pronounced when the state’s economy was booming. But that was when the draw of the bigger cities promised jobs. Said Labor spokesman Bob Fick, “The biggest job losses have been in the city.” You can read my full story here in today’s Spokesman-Review.

Census: Idaho’s largest minority growing quickly

Idaho’s Hispanic population has continued to increase at three times the rate of non-Hispanics, according to the latest U.S. Census figures. Overall, 10.2 percent of Idahoans are Hispanic, but the census found that in nine of Idaho’s 44 counties, all in southern Idaho, the figure was greater than 20 percent. The population of tiny Clark County is 40.4 percent Hispanic; Minidoka County, 30.2 percent; and Jerome County, 27.3 percent.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s median age increased by a month to 34 years and five months, while the median age for Hispanic residents dropped more than three months to 23 years and eight months. “The trend toward youth in the rapidly growing Hispanic population suggests the economic and political influence of the state’s largest minority could grow substantially as Hispanic families become more and more established,” reported Bob Fick of the Idaho Department of Labor, who analyzed the population figures.