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Kentucky trying to figure out where stimulus will go

Lawmakers scrambled Tuesday to decipher how much Kentucky would receive for education, transportation, Medicaid and other programs from the economic stimulus bill President Barack Obama signed in Denver.

Kentucky stands to net $654 million for education and $118 million in additional flex funds in the portion of the bill designed to help stabilize state budgets, according to preliminary figures from the compromise version of the economic stimulus legislation.

The state could also receive $421 million for highways and bridges and $1.3 billion for Medicaid, according to early congressional estimates.

Kentucky is projecting a more than $232 million shortfall in its Medicaid funding because of a spike in the number of people who qualify for the health program for the poor and disabled. But state officials are still trying to determine how far the stimulus money will go toward plugging that hole, said Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

State legislative leaders are meeting this week to hammer out a possible road plan for the state. Some estimates say the state could receive as much as $421 million for highways, but only $282.1 million of that money could be used at Kentucky's discretion. The remaining money would be obligated for other projects, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, a national trade group.

The legislation says that roughly half of the $282.1 million would have to be used within 120 days of when the federal highway department allocates the funds to states, said Charles Wolfe, a spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. It's unclear whether state legislators would be able to come up with a road plan with legislative input before the 120-day threshold.

The state currently is operating on a road plan Gov. Steve Beshear proposed. A Franklin Circuit judge ruled the legislature's road plan invalid in January.

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