The Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court is warning judicial branch employees that layoffs will be “unavoidable” as the courts comply with Governor Culver’s order for a 10% across-the-board cut in the state budget. Chief Justice Marsha Ternus issued a memo this morning saying the judicial branch will need to trim up to $16 million from its budget.
Steve Davis a spokesperson for the Iowa Supreme Court says 95% of the judicial branch budget involves personnel-related costs. “So, the options are really limited,” Davis said. “Layoffs are almost inevitable for employees. Court closure days are another possibility. Iowans will not have access to the same justice system they have today.”
In her memo, Ternus says the budget reduction will have a “devastating impact” on the courts’ ability to deliver timely services to the public. Ternus is asking employees to submit their budget cutting ideas by noon on Tuesday. Davis says the Iowa Supreme Court justices will meet later this week to begin discussing their course of action.
“The options include layoffs and closing courts more days,” Davis said. “The cuts are so deep, that the organization may not look the same after the required reductions are implemented.” Earlier this year, the Iowa Judicial Branch laid off or eliminated the positions of 13 court reporters around a dozen clerk and court attendant positions. Around 1,900 people are currently employed in the Iowa Judicial Branch, although dozens of vacancies are being held open.
See the memo from the Chief Justice here: