Top 10 counties
The Lawrence Journal-World pulled together as many government spending reports as it could find to see where stimulus money was going in Kansas. While the list isn’t comprehensive, it includes dozens of state and federal agencies and more than a thousand different projects throughout the state that total more than $800 million. Here’s a look at what counties benefited the most from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding:
1. Johnson County $137,840,000
2. Sedgwick County $124,153,000
3. Riley County $76,375,000
4. McPherson County $74,772,000
5. Wyandotte County $52,086,000
6. Leavenworth County $33,499,000
7. Shawnee County $28,845,000
8. Douglas County $27,480,000
9. Osage County $14,418,000
10. Cherokee County $12,893,000
Northeast Kansas is receiving almost half of the more than $800 million worth of stimulus money coming to the state from government agencies.
Many state agencies are still in the process of applying for federal funds and defining programs to determine how to spend the money that is funneled through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Some awards are still months away, Gov. Mark Parkinson’s spokeswoman Beth Martino said.
But 16 counties in an area that runs from Kansas City to Junction City along Interstate 70 and north to the Nebraska border have received 46 percent of $827 million in stimulus funding.
It’s a region that accounts for about 45 percent of the state’s population and in June had an average unemployment rate of 6.7, which was below the state’s average.
The Lawrence Journal-World looked at spending reports from more than a dozen U.S. departments and several state agencies to see where stimulus money was going. While not comprehensive, the $827 million worth of projects included funding for defense, transportation, housing and education.
Johnson County, with the state’s largest population, received more money than any other county. Most of the money is going toward road projects, including $83 million to reconstruct part of U.S. Highway 69 in Overland Park.
The county also received millions to spend toward low-income housing, school lunch equipment, two 20-passenger buses and diesel emissions reductions.
Douglas County was among the top 10 counties in Kansas receiving the most stimulus funding.
Fixing the intersection of North Second and Locust streets is perhaps the most visible project being funded under Recovery Act money. But more than a dozen other projects have received funding.
For example, $747,000 is going to low-income housing through the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning to shovel some $5 million toward Clinton Lake and its environs.
The city of Lawrence has received money to repave a three-block portion of New York Street with bricks, reconstruct a sidewalk along the western end of Clinton Parkway and replace police radios.
At KU, $2 million is going to improve roofs, electrical services, and heating and cooling systems. The Lawrence campus also received $5.7 million in grant funding to study everything from cancer-fighting drugs to chlamydia.
Part of the reason for the heavy concentration of stimulus spending in northeast Kansas is due to the presence of large institutions, such as military bases, universities and employment centers, said Joe Aistrup, head of the Kansas State University political science department.
“Money is going to follow where the infrastructure is,” he said.
But spending money where the infrastructure already exists has led to some criticism of the Recovery Act, Aistrup said.
“The haves continue to get and the have-nots don’t,” Aistrup said.
Riley County, with one of the state’s lowest unemployment rates at 3.7 percent, is a good example. The county is receiving around $45 million in funding for improvements to Tuttle Creek Reservoir. Another $12 million is coming in to improve K-18 from Manhattan to Ogden. And Kansas State University is receiving $2.3 million from the state for utility and power plant repairs. The school is also receiving several million dollars’ worth of research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy.
In comparison, Chautauqua County in the southeast part of the state, with one of the highest rates of unemployment at 10.1 percent, received just slightly more than $1 million in Recovery Act funding.
“Even though a county is distressed and should be getting some of this money in a way that allows them to spend it or to create some sort of employment opportunities for themselves, it is not coming their way,” Aistrup said.
Regardless of where in the state the money is going, Aistrup said, some could argue the millions Kansas has received has had a positive effect on all taxpayers.
“You can say the state benefited because, A) it didn’t have to cut more of its programs than it otherwise would have, or B) raise taxes to make up for a big chunk of the state budget,” he said.