Clowns, Yankees tickets and Mrs. Claus have something in common in Connecticut. They've all been paid for by your tax dollars over the past few years.
The State Department of Children and Families and the Department of Correction each paid about $600 to hire professional clowns in 2007 and 2008.
The Yankee Institute for Public Policy has created an enormous online database to show how the state spends our tax dollars.
Some other noteworthy expenses include $3,189 the Governor's Office spent on Crystal Rock bottled water and $1,210 the Department of Veterans Affairs paid to the New York Yankees in 2008.
The Yankee Institute obtained the data through a massive request under the Freedom of Information Act and is launching its free Web site, www.ctsunlight.org, this week.
It offers searchable databases with every state employee's salary and benefits, every pension benefit recipient and every vendor payment any state department made in the 2007 and 2008 fiscal years.
“We believe transparency and disclosure of how government spends tax dollars puts downward pressure on spending, which in turn keeps taxes low," Fergus Cullen, the Yankee Institute’s Executive Director, said.
A DCF spokesman told the Waterbury Republican-American that the agency hired Dimples the Clown (a.k.a. Rose Tichy of Bethlehem) three times for adoption and foster family retention events in 2007.
The Department of Correction, meanwhile, paid $600 in December 2008 to hire Kathy McLaughlin of Rocky Hill to play Mrs. Claus for family holiday party.