Idaho Lt. Gov. McGeachin faces projected budget shortfall if she doesn’t cut expenses

Emails show McGeachin is still trying to identify budget cuts

By: - March 18, 2022 3:32 pm

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin presides over the Senate at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

The administrator of the Idaho Division of Financial Management has warned the heads of the Idaho Legislature’s budget committee that Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s office will run out of money before the end of the budget year if she does not reduce expenses.

In an email sent Thursday to Sen. Jeff Agenbroad and Rep. Rick Youngblood, both R-Nampa, Idaho Division of Financial Management administrator Aex Adams warned of the potential shortfall for McGeachin’s office. Youngblood and Agenbroad are co-chairmen of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, the powerful legislative committee that meets daily to set the state’s approximately $4.5 billion general fund budget. 

“I wanted to bring this to your attention, as this may create some issues with the (fiscal year 2023) budget if actions aren’t taken to close the shortfall. I don’t want you to be surprised,” Adams wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Idaho Capital Sun and is embedded at the bottom of this article. Idaho runs on a fiscal year calendar that goes from July 1 to June 30. 

Boise State Public Radio first reported on McGeachin’s projected shortfall on Thursday. 

McGeachin is running for governor this year — the chief executive of the state and a position that is responsible for proposing a state budget. McGeachin is challenging incumbent Gov. Brad Little and a field of six other Republicans in the May 17 GOP primary. The winner advances to the Nov. 8 general election. 

Adams sent Agenbroad and Youngblood a copy of an email that the Idaho Division of Financial Management’s deputy administrator David Fulkerson sent warning McGeachin to make immediate budget cutbacks to ensure her budget balances by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Fulkerson warned McGeachin on Wednesday that she faces a projected shortfall of $15,373. Even if both of McGeachin’s staff members were laid off at the end of the month, McGeachin would still face a shortfall of about $6,073.

“Even if both staff members cease to work after March 30, the maximum savings would be about $9,300, which would still not make up the deficit,” Fulkerson wrote in the email, which the Sun obtained. 

“Again, I would like to stress the urgency of making immediate cutbacks in an effort to bring the FY 2022 budget back into compliance with the appropriation by the end of the fiscal year,” Fulkerson added.

Jordan Watters, McGeachin’s chief of staff, gave McGeachin notice of his resignation on Thursday, according to an email from Watters obtained by the Idaho Capital Sun. 

“My agreed upon last day of work in this office will be the end of the 2022 legislative session,” Watters wrote in an email he sent Monday morning to Fulkerson.

Watters did not respond to emailed requests for comment from the Idaho Capital Sun.


McGeachin’s budget shortfalls stem from public records request lawsuit

McGeachin’s shortfall comes as the Idaho Legislature has declined to take up McGeachin’s $28,973.84 supplemental funding request to cover legal fees that arose after McGeachin declined to release public records and lost an ensuing lawsuit seeking the release of those records. Last year, District Judge Steven Hippler ordered McGeachin to pay to the Idaho Press Club $28,973.84 in fees after ordering McGeachin to release public comments related to her 2021 education task force that McGeachin had redacted. 

State records show the state paid the Idaho Press Club $28,973.84 on Oct. 29.

McGeachin asked the Idaho Legislature for supplemental funding to cover the legal fees, which she warned she would not be able to afford and may require her to furlough staff. 

The Idaho House of Representatives voted to pass McGeachin’s 2023 budget on a 66-1 vote on Friday at the Idaho State Capitol. The budget does not include funding to cover the supplemental budget request for legal fees.  

During floor debate Friday, Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, asked Rep. Colin Nash, D-Boise, about the Boise State Public Radio report on the shortfall and about the status of McGeachin supplemental budget request.

“JFAC has not acted on that to date,” Nash told her. “I am told that the committee is still open for business, but we have received no word from the lieutenant governor officially that there will be a shortfall in the budget for fiscal year 2023, though I have heard those same news reports.”

DFM McGeachin budget email March 2022


McGeachin Budget Watters Response March 2022

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Clark Corbin
Clark Corbin

Clark Corbin has more than a decade of experience covering Idaho government and politics. He has covered every Idaho legislative session since 2011 gavel-to-gavel. Prior to joining the Idaho Capital Sun he reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho Education News. His reporting in Idaho has helped uncover a multimillion-dollar investment scam and exposed inaccurate data that school districts submitted to the state.