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Wonks of the World: Unite!

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Just in time for Independence Day and the spate of Tea Parties around Vermont, two public policy groups joined forces to create a website that gives citizens an inside look at how and where their tax dollars are spent.

It was more than a year in the works, but the left-leaning Public Assets Institute and the Libertarian-leaning Ethan Allen Institute launched Vermont Transparency on Thursday. 

"There wasn't an inch of difference between us," notes Jack Hoffman, senior analyst at PAI. "We both understand the importance of having good information and good data for the public. The collaboration has been terrific."

John McClaughry, president and founder of EAI, concurs.

“Neither of us ruled anything out the other wanted to include,” said McClaughry. "This is really straightforward and factual information."

Policy wonks as well as professional and citizen journalists will find it easy to dive more deeply into the nitty-gritty of state revenues and spending, both current and historical. The site also lets you find out what state employees earn: You can search by job title or an individual's name.

Visitors will also find links to federal stimulus spending, state economic development credits, rainy day funds, school district spending and outcomes, and municipal web pages.

Within the next week or two, people will also be able to search state payments to vendors and delve into budget details from 20 years ago.

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