If you want to know what kind of impact the federal Sandy relief aid will have on New Jersey, it makes sense to ask State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, right? That's what Assembly Budget Committee chairman Vinnie Prieto thought so he invited the Treasurer to testify before his committee yesterday, but Sidamon-Eristoff was no-show.

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Prieto is furious because he says this is the fourth time in recent months that he's been snubbed by the Treasurer and now he wants subpoena power to force Sidamon-Eristoff to show up next time.

"The Treasurer is being disrespectful to this committee, but most concerning, he's being disrespectful to the taxpayers who pay his salary and benefits and expect him to do his job and provide answers to basic questions," says Prieto. "My patience has evaporated."

Our request seeking comment was ignored by the Treasury Department, but Assembly Republican Conference Leader Dave Rible shot back at Prieto and his Democratic colleagues.

"I don't recall the outrage from the Democrats when billions of taxpayer dollars were wasted under the defunct Schools Construction Corp. (SCC), despite the fact that the first six schools built by the SCC cost, on average, 45 percent more than schools built by local boards of education in 2005," says Rible. "The same concern for oversight also was not expressed by the Democrats when funds for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) were disbursed in 2008-09, nor were any oversight hearings held. Chairman Prieto says that 'legislative oversight and checks-and-balances are cornerstones of our democracy,' but that applies regardless of who is Governor. This latest tirade is motivated purely by politics."

Prieto says, "I'm a patient person, but I've lost it…..It's just unacceptable that we can't get answers and we are an equal branch of government, but we are not getting the respect that we deserve."