WASHINGTON – Maryland stands apart from a national trend in federal stimulus spending.
A recent report produced by Advancement Project, a Washington-based civil rights think tank, found more states with higher diversity and unemployment rates received less stimulus money.
“For every 1 percent increase on the diversity scale, there’s a decline of $3 in ARRA spending per state resident,” said Inger Brinck, Advancement Project public finance manager.
However, diversity is not a criteria used to determine American Recovery and Reinvestment Act fund allocations.
“The bulk of the dollars that come to the state are formulaic,” said Shaun Adamec, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s press secretary. “Even where there is discretion in funding, there are restrictions on spending that help target economically distressed areas, and again, one would see an overlap.”
Advancement Project used the federal web site recovery.gov to compile its report.
Researchers analyzed the site’s “diversity index,” which ranks a state’s diversity level from zero to 100.
Since Dec. 31, 2009, Maryland has been awarded about $4.6 billion in funds, according to recovery.gov. Advancement Project scored Maryland a 61 percent — the 11th most diversified state.
California ranks as the most diverse state with an 83 percent score and an average of $600 in stimulus spending per resident, according to the report.
However, Vermont is the least diverse state with an 8 percent score and averages about $1,000 in stimulus per capita spending.
“We see glaring differences in the results,” said Sabrina Williams, Advancement Project managing director of communications. “This is a cause for concern and investigation. We hope that will happen.”
Within Maryland, the story is different.
The five jurisdictions with the highest diversity rates averaged about $748 per resident in stimulus funding, while the five counties with the least amount of non-white residents averaged about $337 per capita.
Prince George’s County, the most ethnically diverse jurisdiction with a 71.9 percent non-white population, followed the national trend and received $258 per resident in recovery funds — the fifth-least among all 24 jurisdictions.
Baltimore City, however, ranks second-highest in diversity with 67.3 percent and received the most funding with $2,343 per resident, according to ProPublica, a non-profit research organization.
Carroll County’s white residents make up 93 percent of its population, according to Census Bureau data. The least diverse jurisdiction, Carroll also received the least funding per capita.
Other counties’ funding shows a diversity correlation.
Frederick and Anne Arundel counties, with relatively low poverty rates, low unemployment rates and largely white populations, received the second- and third-highest recovery funding per capita.
“The governor was very keen on ensuring that both the state and local governments competed for every possible available dollar,” said Adamec. “And the state — at the governor’s direction — offered tools through the governor’s office, StateStat and DBED (Department of Business and Economic Development) to help locals connect to competitive opportunities through ARRA.”
Advancement Project also found that residents lose almost $30 for every one point increase in the unemployment rate, however Maryland strays from this national trend, as well.
Baltimore City has the highest poverty rate and the second-highest unemployment rate, according to the ProPublica Recovery Tracker.
Dorchester County, with an unemployment rate of 11.2 – the highest in the state — received $562 per resident.