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10/27/2016 » 10/28/2016
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WARNING: Judicial Branch Meltdown
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Disastrous consequences imminent as judicial branch budget slashed

Iowa attorneys should brace themselves for significant judicial complications with the Iowa Legislature's judicial budget proposals. Because 96 percent of the judicial budget is allocated for personnel, the drastic underfunding will likely result in 22 layoffs per $1 million not budgeted. Depending upon the amount of reduced funding, this could mean as many as 160 judicial employees being permanently laid-off, directly affecting Iowans statewide.

Earlier in the session, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad requested a $182.7 million budget for the judicial branch in order to provide the funding necessary for current operations. The Senate approved $176 million, and the House approved only $171.4. The potential budget equates to a $5.5 million shortfall between the Senate and the House.

The underfunding of the judicial branch will result in a significant reduction of services and closure of clerks’ offices around the state. In addition, Iowans can expect:

  • Major trial delays
  • Delays in child support payment processing
  • Delays in implementation of the new expedited civil trials
  • Scaling back of family treatment, drug, veterans, mental health and business courts
  • First-time offenders of juvenile courts will not be able to have face-to-face meetings with officers
  • Travel restrictions for all judicial branch personnel

The judicial budget, only two percent of the total state budget, is depended upon by Iowa citizens every day. According to ISBA leaders, the shortfalls are a very real and genuine step back in serving Iowans. They urge immediate action to protect the system and clients’ needs. Please inform your local legislators that adequate funding of the third branch of government is essential to the citizens of our state.

Contacting your legislator is simple. Visit the Iowa Legislative website for your legislator’s contact information here.

The Iowa State Bar Association • 625 East Court Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309
Ph. (515) 243-3179 • Fax (515) 243-2511