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Follow Your Money, Right Into Others' Pockets

How much does your state-employed neighbor make? A new tracking tool from the NJ Department of Treasury might tell you.

It’s called YourMoney.NJ.gov. And for those of you who really want to know where your taxes are going, the new user-friendly tracking tool from the State Department of Treasury gives a pretty good idea. Maybe too good.

Consider that, according to the tool, 5,520 state employees are pulling down $100,000-plus salaries. And that eight -- seven of whom are medical doctors -- earn $200,000.

Or take the fact that Trenton (and taxpayers) spent $199.3 million on computers and software last year. That’s on top of the $77 million in phone bills paid to Verizon New Jersey.

Officially unveiled yesterday -- just as Gov. Chris Christie told a joint special session of the Legislature that it’s time for state, county and local governments to tighten their fiscal belts -- YourMoney.NJ.gov is the latest foray by an administration to provide “transparency” in where and how much the state spends each year.

It’s much like what former Gov. Jon Corzine released in his final month in office, occasioning one of the last announcements of his administration.

But with improvements in technology, the new tool delivers its data in much greater detail. Especially payroll information: New Jerseyans can find out not only how much each employee makes in salary -- but also how much they pile up in overtime.

We’re looking at you, corrections sergeant at the New Jersey Training School in Monroe Township, with your $50,000 in overtime that exceeds your salary to date. (And don’t think you 32 others with $30,000 in overtime have escaped our attention either.)

But for all the transparency, the tool isn’t as illuminating on the “whys” of the expenditures. And in some cases, the data is downright muddy. Take the commodities list. With all the money spent on computers or vehicles or even “arts and crafts, theater and entertainment,” the single largest sum is the $2 billion paid to a national purchasing pool -- “sector indeterminate.”

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