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The ups and downs of stimulus accounting

From May to August, it appears Maryland lost about $100 million, give or take, in stimulus funds.

Earlier this year, the state officials said Maryland was due $4.3 billion of the $787 billion stimulus spending package. But, when the state released its second quarter spending statistics, the award total was an estimated $4.2 billion.

So what gives?

That total allocation is “a moving target,” said Beth Blauer, who runs the governor’s StateStat office and oversees stimulus spending in the state. Wrapped into that big number — $4.3 billion or $4.2 billion, depending when you ask — are dozens of different types of funding and thousands of projects.

There’s money for home weatherization, road paving, teacher salaries, prison guards, water treatment plants and affordable housing projects, to name a few. Also included are federal matching dollars and extended funding for entitlement programs.

As the quarterly reimbursements come in for things like unemployment insurance and Medicaid — at more than $210 million in April, May and June, Medicaid was the largest single target of stimulus funding — the calculators whir in Annapolis and in D.C. and that bottom line “goes back and forth a little bit based on the entitlement dollars,” Blauer said.

So the $100 million drop from Q1 to Q2 means Marylanders needed less government assistance from the stimulus programs intended to help the needy and sick.

Not a bad way to lose $100 million, eh?

Update 4:13 p.m.:

The good people at StateStat have filled me in on the final numbers for the second quarter (which still includes a bit of guesswork on the future funding of entitlement programs) and the state’s allocation now sits at $4.36 billion.

So much for losing $100 million. In fact, by my count, we’re up. Just goes to show how much of a moving target those numbers are.