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FY 17 Budget 

The legislature appropriated the same amount of funding as the judicial branch received last year, more than $5 million short of the amount needed to maintain the current level of service to Iowans.  Unfortunately, this means some very difficult decisions have been made for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.  All options to balance the budget were considered including layoffs, furloughs, reduction in hours, and reduction or elimination of specialty courts and other new programs.  


For FY 17 the court decided to  

·     Establish a hiring freeze for all vacancies in the judicial branch.  There will be a very few, limited exceptions to the hiring freeze.  

·     Hold open judicial vacancies for an average of six months.  

·     Reduce travel by 10%. 

·     Reduce furniture and non-IT equipment by 50%. 

·     Shift some funding for IT operations to the Court Technology Fund. 

·     Institute a moratorium on the expansion of specialty courts. 

·     Require supreme court approval before a judicial district may eliminate any specialty courts.  


Even with these budget decisions, there may still be the need for further budget adjustments at some point in the fiscal year.  


In making these decisions, the court tried to minimize disruption of services to Iowans by making evidence-based decisions.  As part of the effort to develop long- term planning options, the court has asked the state court administrator to complete a workload study of all aspects of judicial branch operations.  The results of the workload study will guide future budget decisions by the judicial branch.  In addition, the court has created an online suggestion box to hear from Iowans about the impact of these budget decisions and to hear suggestions regarding improved services to Iowans.   


The court appreciates the continued support of judicial branch employees as well as the legal and business communities.  The court will maintain regular meetings with the judicial council, judicial branch employees, attorneys, and business leaders to discuss the results of the judicial branch workload study, listen to the impact of budget decisions on services for Iowans, and develop long-term planning options.  




Five facts about the Iowa Judicial Branch


  1. The judicial branch budget is 96% personnel.





  1. In 2015, Iowa courts collected $155.9 million in revenue



Each year, with the aid of several state and local government entities, Iowa courts collect millions of dollars in fines and fees that directly benefit state and local government. In FY 2015, the $155.9 million collected by Iowa's courts was distributed as follows: 


$105.5 million—Iowa General Fund 

$18.5 million—Cities and Counties  

$15.0 million—Prison Infrastructure Fund 

$4.9 million— Attorney General Victim Compensation Fund 

$5.4 million— Court Technology and Enhancement Fund 

$3.3 million— Road Use Tax Fund 

$3.5 million— CCU Collection/Third Party Collection Fee 




3.    More than 17 million documents filed and stored electronically as the official court record, requiring more than 3.7 terabytes of storage space.  


On July 1, 2015, the statewide implementation of electronic filing in Iowa's courts was complete. Iowans with a case on file could file documents using the Internet and view the court docket and court documents for their case online from an office or home computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  


The project began in January 2010 when the first court document was successfully filed electronically in the Plymouth County Clerk of Court Office.  EDMS gives more and more court users, including law enforcement officers, the Department of  Human Services, and hospitals—to name a few—secure, prompt, and easy access to judges, court  records, and the court system. Iowa is a national leader and a model of efficiency with the first mandatory electronic filing system (that can deal with paper on demand) in the nation. To date, more than 130,000 people are registered to file electronically with an average of 12,800 filings every day. 





The stacks of files and documents in this graph represents the amount of paper saved with electronic filing. 




  1. More than 713,000 cases were filed in Iowa District Courts

Most cases filed with the Iowa courts do not make headlines, but each one is critically important to the Iowans involved.  In addition to the familiar criminal cases and civil legal disputes, there are families in crisis, victims seeking protection, abused and neglected children, and troubled youths, all turning to the courts for help during desperate times of need. 






  1. There are 55 specialty courts in Iowa



There are 55 specialty courts in Iowa. A partnership between courts and communities, a treatment court is an effective way to address the core problems responsible for many crimes and broken families. These courts work intensively with community professionals to empower Iowa adults and juveniles to break free from the grip of substance abuse and mental health issues. Treatment teams include a judge, substance abuse treatment professionals, attorneys (county attorneys and parents' or defense attorney) and private agency providers.  





SCA MEMO TO STAFF January 2017 
































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