The Legislature’s joint budget committee on Tuesday sliced a long-vacant position and $17,400 out of Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s budget for next year, after she told the panel at a January budget hearing that it was up to lawmakers whether the position stayed in her budget or not. The move sparked protest from Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, who said the position has since been filled and that his alternate budget motion, to keep the funding and the position in the budget, “would not require firing anyone.”
According to state records, the lieutenant governor’s office hired a part-time administrative assistant on Feb. 22, one of two shown in her office, and also still continued to pay for a contract with Idaho Freedom Foundation analyst Parrish Miller for information technology services at $800 a month. The most recent payments to Miller, two for $800 each, were made Feb. 11, according to the state’s Transparent Idaho financial transparency website.
In a blistering statement Tuesday afternoon, McGeachin blasted lawmakers and said the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee “chose to kneecap” her office's budget.
"Specifically targeting the already small budget of Idaho's first female lieutenant governor seems punitive," McGeachin said in her statement.
The budget motion passed on a bipartisan 13-6 vote in the joint committee, with nine Republicans and four Democrats supporting it and six Republicans voting “no.” You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up Wednesday's print edition of the Idaho Press.