Iowa courts seek 3.9 percent budget increase

DES MOINES — Iowa Judicial Branch officials are proposing a 3.9 percent boost in state funding for fiscal year 2021 — a $191.8 million general fund request that seeks to increase salaries and hire additional staff at clerk of court offices.

The request to increase this fiscal year’s $184.6 million state appropriation by $7.2 million includes $900,000 for the 17 full-time positions required for the clerk of court offices to be staffed at the recommended level of 2.5 FTE positions per courthouse, according to budget documents filed with the Legislative Services Agency and the state Department of Management.

The overall request also seeks $3.6 million for a 3.1 percent pay increase for all noncontract and contract judicial-branch employees and $900,000 for a 2.1 percent salary increase for all judges and magistrates in the state’s eight judicial districts, documents indicate.

Court officials also are seeking $1.5 million to hire four additional district associate judges and 12 staff positions — court reporters, judicial specialists, a staff attorney, law clerks and an administrative assistant — to address increasing workloads and provide more timely resolution of disputes.

Another $250,000 was included for the Jury and Witness Revolving Fund to meet administrative needs associated with interpreting services and to add a full-time language access coordinator position.

The three-member state Revenue Estimating Conference is slated to meet Dec. 12 to set the projected tax revenue amounts that by law become the numbers the governor and Legislature must use for budgeting purposes in the upcoming legislative session.

Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to issue her two-year budget plan for fiscal years 2021 and 2022 when she makes her Condition of the State address Jan. 14 to a joint session of the 88th Iowa General Assembly.

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