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Iowa Supreme Court Approves FY 2022 Budget

The Iowa Supreme Court approved a 2021-2022 judicial branch budget that will provide the courts the resources needed to transition from pandemic court services and processes to post-pandemic operations. The $189,640,252 budget, a 4.7 percent increase over the current fiscal year's budget, includes additional funding for four district associate judges and 17 clerks of court positions for mostly rural counties.

“This is a transformational budget for the judicial branch that allows us to invest in rural communities and in the people who serve our state in all 99 counties,” Chief Justice Susan Christensen said. “I want to thank the legislature and governor for this year’s appropriation. The additional funds will allow us to add the judge and staff positions needed to provide important court services to Iowans across the state.”

According to the workload formulas developed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), Iowans need 10 additional district judge positions and 20 additional district associate judge positions to manage the current judicial branch workload. Two district associate judges will be appointed in October 2021, one for the central and one for the eastern sections of the state, and two more in January 2022, one for the southwestern and one for the eastern portions of the state. The addition of four district associate judges this fiscal year is the first step in a plan to address the deficit by adding four new district associate judge positions a year for five years.

The FY22 budget will allow the judicial branch to strengthen its ties with rural communities and to offer a full complement of services on a full-time basis to all Iowa counties by adding 17 new clerk positions. Currently, staffing in clerk of court offices in 32 counties is below the recommended level of 2.5 staff. A minimum of 2.5 clerk positions is recommended in each courthouse to ensure safety, fiscal responsibility, full-time coverage, and full-service. The 17 new clerk positions will allow clerks to cover overall workload demands in a timely manner based on a workload formula developed by the NCSC.

The legislature also approved a 3 percent salary increase for judicial officers, the first judicial officer salary increase since FY 20 and only the fourth increase in the last twelve years. The budget includes a 1.1 percent salary increase for court employees other than judicial officers, and a one percent step increase.  The judicial branch can also begin to fill positions left vacant or frozen during the last fiscal year.

More information on the FY22 judicial branch budget is available on the judicial branch website at https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/fy-2022-budget/