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Iowa Supreme Court: Approves Fiscal Year 2018 Budget; More Than 150 Unfilled Positions Will Remain Vacant
July 6, 2017

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Des Moines On June 28 the Iowa Supreme Court approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Iowa Judicial Branch budget that begins July 1, 2017. The budget continues the statewide hiring freeze from the last fiscal year that resulted in more than 150 vacant positions. The judicial branch will continue to keep vacant positions open and only fill the most critical positions in FY 18.

The Iowa Legislature appropriated $175.7 million for judicial branch operations in FY 18, the same amount appropriated last year after a mid-year deappropriation, but more than $3 million short of the legislature's FY 16 appropriation.

"With more than 150 vacancies, our statewide court system has the fewest employees in our history," State Court Administrator David Boyd said. "Even though we continue to implement efficiencies such as statewide electronic filing of court documents, we still require clerks to process those documents and judges to decide those cases. Quite frankly, we have more work than we have people to do the work and, as a result, Iowans using our court system will not receive the timely services they expect and deserve."

The continued hard freeze on judicial branch hiring is anticipated to create more vacancies in the coming fiscal year. Additionally, district court judgeships that become vacant will be held open for the balance of the fiscal year, with the limit of one district court judgeship vacant at any one time in any one judicial election district. District associate judgeships that become vacant during the fiscal year will not be held vacant. The budget also continues non-personnel reductions begun in FY 17 including a 20% cut in office supplies and postage, a 10% cut in telephone service, a 50% cut in furniture and non-IT equipment, and a 10% reduction in education and training programs. The non-personnel reductions apply to all components of the judicial branch in FY 18.

The budget also includes a 1% salary increase for all judicial branch employees and a 2% step increase for all employees not at the top of their pay grade. In addition, judges and magistrates will receive a 2.5% salary increase, their first salary increase in four years and only their second salary increase in 10 years.

"In order to minimize disruption of services with the large number of vacant positions, it is very important to the court to retain experienced employees and judges," Boyd said. "I am confident that the remaining staff will continue their efforts to deliver high quality court services in spite of the challenges we face."

A special page has been added to the Iowa Judicial Branch website with details of the FY 18 budget, at www.iowacourts.gov/Administration/Budget/

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