The 2000 census may ask fewer questions due to budget cuts, which may mean less information for state and local governments to use in allocating federal money and targeting areas for their programs.

"The census information is critical" to state and local governments, said Jim Martin, director of the office of federal and state affairs for the National Governors' Association. He said that the data is used not only for allocating federal moneys, but also for many state and local programs.

The new form would still ask for the number and the gender of persons in households, date of birth, race, the size and value of a person's home, and whether the people in the household are of Hispanic origin.

But the form will no longer ask for household income, years of schooling, occupation, housing details, status of mortgage and equity loans, citizenship, immigration status, ancestry or ethnic origin -- other than Hispanic -- languages spoken at home, disability status, employment, commuting patterns, car ownership, or telephone ownership.

The NGA supports strengthening the census, not weakening it, Martin said. He said the proposed cuts would probably reduce the amount of usable information states get from the census.

The cut in funding for the census is part of the budget package passed by the House. It is unknown if the funding reduction will be included in the compromise plan now being negotiated in Congress.

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