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Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant

HARTFORD – The Connecticut Department of Corrections hired Huggles the Clown for $600. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs spent $1,210 on New York Yankees tickets. A total of 1,137 state employees are paid more than the governor, and 175 retired state employees collect pensions of more than $100,000 a year.

These facts are now publicly available online for the first time thanks to a new transparency website, www.CTsunlight.org, that lists where every tax dollar spent by state government goes. Every state employee’s salary. Every retiree’s pension. Every vendor payment by every state government department or agency. All online, searchable, and downloadable.

The Yankee Institute created CTsunlight.org following a massive Freedom of Information Act request for data covering calendar 2007 and 2008. “We believe transparency and disclosure of how government spends tax dollars puts downward pressure on spending, which in turn keeps taxes low,” said Fergus Cullen, the Yankee Institute’s Executive Director. “We call our website ‘CTSunlight.org’ because we believe sunlight is the best disinfectant. More examples from 2008:

• The state spent $3,193 on hotels in Nevada
• The Department of Education spent $258,478 on referees and umpires
• The state spent $2,582 at various Dunkin Donuts locations
• The Attorney General’s office spent $5,100,205 on attorney’s fees to private law firms
• The Department of Corrections spent $2.8 million for milk from the Guida Dairy
• The Governor’s Office spent $3,189 on bottled water from Crystal Rock
• The Department of Veteran’s Affairs subscribes to the Book of the Month Club for $607

“We’ve designed this site to be a tool for citizens, taxpayers, journalists, and elected officials. It will be enhanced by the wisdom of crowds: The more people who use the site, the greater the likelihood that someone will notice something that will save taxpayers money,” Cullen said.

ABOUT THE YANKEE INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY: The Yankee Institute is Connecticut’s independent think tank dedicated to free markets, free enterprise, and private sector solutions to public policy questions. Founded in 1984, Yankee has offices on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. The Yankee Institute is nonpartisan research and educational organization and is classified by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit.

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