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‘Tough Decisions’ Ahead After Preliminary Iowa Courts Budget Revealed

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Iowa Judicial Branch Building, which houses the Iowa Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa – The administrator of the state’s court system says a reduction in court services is likely after learning how much money is being budgeted for Iowa courts for fiscal year 2018.

David K. Boyd, the State Court Administrator, sent out a memo Wednesday to all Judicial Branch employees warning that, “Tough decisions will need to be made. Court services will probably have to be reduced in order to live within the funding appropriated to the branch.”

The memo detailed the Joint Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee approved a plan Wednesday to give the judicial branch $178,786,612 for fiscal year 2018. That is the same amount the branch was awarded for fiscal year 2017, but in January the Iowa Legislature de-appropriated $3 million from that budget.

Boyd says the 2017 appropriation was already $5.5 million short of what was needed to maintain a full service court system. To meet its reduced budget, the department took several actions including holding job vacancies open, implementing a hiring freeze, and closing courts for one day.

To balance the department’s budget in 2018 Boyd says all options to stay within budget are on the table, including layoffs, reduction in hours, and reduction or elimination of specialty courts.

Boyd says, “Receiving a status quo appropriation will mean more difficult decisions for FY 18. These decisions will be made by the Supreme Court once the appropriation is finalized by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.”