The powerful Assembly Budget Committee has authorized subpoena power today to force State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff to testify before the panel. The Treasurer has repeatedly failed to appear at the Assembly Budget Committee’s request.

Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff (NJ Dept. of the Treasury)

The legislation approved today gives the panel subpoena power to investigate state revenue collections, budget contingency plans, the state Lottery privatization plans, Hurricane Sandy relief funding and other finance matters.

The bill was released 6-4 by the Assembly Budget Committee, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposed.

“This committee is the result of months of a little bit of frustration and I’m going to tell you, this is a not a partisan issue,” explains Committee chairman, Vinnie Prieto. “We need to know the facts and I think that we’re entitled to hear the information firsthand.”

The party-line vote makes it clear that Republican members of the committee don’t agree with granting subpoena power.

“Folks on my side of the aisle do disagree with the need for it and the premise justifying it,” says Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the ranking Republican on the panel. “The (Christie) Administration will make the Treasurer, every commissioner and many department heads available to us, some of them repeatedly, over the next few months.

What’s Next

The resolution, which still requires Assembly approval, authorizes the committee to use subpoenas for compelling testimony and the production of documents from employees of the state, any state agency or any political subdivision of the state.

If the legislation is given approval by the full Assembly as expected, the Budget committee will have the authority to investigate all matters related to the state budget and state finances including, but not limited to, revenue collections, state budget contingency plans, private management services for the state Lottery, federal relief funding in response to Hurricane Sandy and any facts it deems relevant in determining whether the circumstances associated with the state budget and state finances necessitate further legislative action.