Iowa Judicial Branch FY23 Budget
“. . .the court system is 100 percent fully operational, but we are continuing some practices adopted on an emergency basis when the pandemic started. These practices not only keep court proceedings moving along but allow people to participate in a meaningful way without jeopardizing health or conflicting with work schedules.”
Chief Justice Susan Christensen
2022 Condition of the Judiciary Speech
Today, the Iowa Judicial Branch is better equipped to handle the daily challenges thanks to the many lessons learned in the early stages of the pandemic. The experiences and lessons learned since March 2020 have allowed the branch to look at programs and procedures to find efficiencies. The appropriation for FY22 helped the branch strengthen areas of concern, especially in rural communities where the branch was able to address the need for adequate staffing in clerk of court offices. Investing in communities to bring about improvements in the delivery of justice for all Iowans remains of utmost importance to everyone in the branch.
Looking forward, the FY 23 budget appropriation was approved by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Governor Reynolds June 17, 2022. For fiscal year 2023, the judicial branch will have $5,360,298 in discretionary spending, or a 2.83% increase from last year. While this amount is not as much as requested, it will allow the branch to keep current staffing levels, provide modest salary increases, and add new judges and new positions.
Iowans in all 99 counties benefit from the services provided by the 1,700 judicial branch judicial officers and employees. These judicial officers and employees are members of every community and resolve disputes to provide justice to Iowans who need assistance in the more than 700,000 cases filed every year. The education, experience, and abilities of these individuals are the best assets of the judicial branch. For the upcoming fiscal year, the Iowa Supreme Court approved a 1.1 percent across the board salary increase for all court employees, other than judges, and a two percent salary step increase for those eligible. With the upcoming salary increase, judicial branch employees (excluding judges and magistrates) have averaged a 1.35 percent annual salary increase and a 1.33 percent step increase each year for the last six years.
Iowa’s judiciary has a strong, national reputation for fairness and impartiality. Every day, judges and magistrates in their communities make thousands of decisions in an effort to deliver justice that is fair to all. The work is difficult and often very complex. For the upcoming fiscal year, the legislature approved a 2% salary increase for judges, only their fourth increase in the last nine years.
Additionally, for the second consecutive year, the legislature requires the creation of four new district associate judges. In September 2022, one of the new DAJs will be appointed in Polk County and another in Sioux County. Then, in January 2023, the two remaining DAJs will be appointed to District 8A and District 2A. This includes funding for the related support positions for the new DAJ positions including court reporters, judicial specialists, and law clerks. The new positions are part of a five-year plan to add a total of 20 DAJs statewide resulting from calculations using workload formulas developed by the National Center for State Courts. According to the formulas, Iowans need 30 additional judges to process the current judicial branch workload. Ten of these positions are district judge positions and 20 are district associate judge positions.
Over the course of this pandemic, the judicial branch never ceased operating. Judicial branch employees consistently found ways to ensure citizens had access to justice.
Letter from State Court Administrator (November 29, 2021)
FY23 Budget Request Overview (December 6, 2021)
FY23 Budget Presentation (February 22, 2022)
State Court Administrator FY 23 Budget Message to Court Employees (May 24, 2022)