The chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court is asking legislators to set aside $2 million to provide a four-and-a-half percent salary hike for Iowa judges and magistrates. Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady delivered the annual “Condition of the Judiciary” address to legislators and the governor today in Des Moines.
“We will work with you to build Iowa’s judiciary, so that all aspects of the job of a judge, including compensation, will appeal to all Iowa attorneys and enable us to keep our devoted and experienced judges,” Cady said.
Iowa judges and magistrates went five years without a pay boost, until last year when legislators provided them a four-and-a-half percent salary increase.
“Thank you to each member of this General Assembly and to our governor. We want you to know how much we appreciate the support and the cooperation that you have given us throughout this past year,” Cady said. “This support has lifted our spirits to better reveal the possibilities of what can be and has brought into better focus the steps we can take to reach our goal of becoming the best court system in the nation.”
Representative Gary Worthan, a Republican from Storm Lake, is co-chair of the panel that drafts the budget for the judicial branch. He says not only did judges go without salary hikes, some openings on the bench went unfilled to plug other holes in the budget during those five years.
“The indicator that kind of is telling is the number of people that have applied for judgeships over the last 18 months to two years,” Worthan says. “It’s going down fairly significantly.”
The Iowa Supreme Court’s chief justice is seeking an overall budget increase of 3.7 percent for the judicial branch.
“Equal access to justice for all begins with a full-time justice system that is open to all,” Cady said. “…Last September we were able to reopen every clerk of court office in every county courthouse on a full-time basis.”
For the past four years, many clerk of court offices were periodically closed to the public, as court employees were furloughed to deal with budget cuts.