On Friday, May 17, 2019, Governor Reynolds signed into law the Judicial Branch Appropriations Bill (SF616). Beginning July 1, 2019, the FY20 judicial branch budget will be $181 million. The judicial branch received $3.55 million in additional funding compared to the FY19 budget of $178 million. Most of the additional funding will go towards a 2.1 percent across the board salary increase for contract and non-contract staff, and a 2 percent increase for judicial officers.
Listed below is how the appropriation affects each of the six strategic initiatives included in the judicial branch budget request.
FY20 Initiative Status
Problem Solving Courts Initiative
The judicial branch seeks to improve the coordination and effectiveness of the problem-solving courts across the state. An allocated portion of the FY20 additional funding will be used to fill a previously authorized Problem Solving Court Coordinator position.
Protect Iowa’s Children Initiative
Through this initiative, the judicial branch seeks to implement recommendations from a Council for State Government study to improve internal and external coordination of juvenile services, create uniform policies applied consistently statewide, and use data-driven decision-making to improve outcomes for all children. The judicial branch will allocate a portion of the additional funding to hire four juvenile court officers, a Director of Juvenile Services, and a Quality Assurance position.
Digital Opportunities Initiative
The Digital Opportunity Initiative seeks to address licensing, maintenance contracts, equipment replacement costs associated with technology enterprises, and staffing. FY20 additional funding will be allocated to hiring a new tech support position, as well as a new IT manager.
Addressing Stagnant Judicial Salaries Initiative
The legislature increased the salaries of judicial officers in FY20 by 2 percent.
Rural Courts Initiative and Access to Justice Initiative
The Rural Courts Initiative seeks to strengthen ties with rural communities to offer a complement of services on a full-time basis. The Access to Justice Initiative looks to develop programs and services for the rising number of self-represented litigants. Due to insufficient funding, the judicial branch did not allocate FY20 additional funds to either the Rural Courts Initiative or the Access to Justice Initiative.