The state’s legal community is warning proposed budget cuts in the state’s court system “will still cause significant disruption.”
House Republicans propose cutting far less than Republicans in the Senate. Steve Eckley, president of the Iowa State Bar Association, thanked House members for that move today during a public hearing at the statehouse, but Eckley said Iowans will still notice a one-point-six million dollar cuts to the courts for this budgeting year.
“These include people involved in domestic abuse cases who need immediate attention to their very charged situations, mothers and fathers involved in domestic relations matters ending marriages and affecting children,” he said, ” the prosecution of criminal cases that may ultimately be dismissed because of the speedy trial requirements.”
More than half a million cases are moving through the state’s courts this year. Eckley told lawmakers the court delays caused by state budget cuts will hit every county.
“Whether it be your constituents waiting to close a probate matter so that the proceeds of an estate can be distributed, criminal cases that need to be prosecuted or civil cases that have been set for trial for months or even years, they will all be negatively impacted,” Eckley said.
Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Council 61, said “several thousand” state employees who are members of his union will be adversely affected by the cuts.
“Overall, state government has been cut to the bone and I know these departments cannot effectively and responsibly provide essential services under this bill,” Homan said during today’s public hearing.
Homan told lawmakers there will “real life consequences” in the state’s prison system.
“As president of this union that represents these workers, this keeps me up at night: when will an officer be killed? Please, don’t vote this budget through,” Homan said.
State tax collections are lower than expected so cuts must be made in the current year’s state budget. Today’s hour-long public hearing on the House GOP’s budget-cutting package attracted University of Northern Iowa students who thanked the House for shielding the Cedar Falls campus from this latest round of cuts. Students from the other two state-supported universities expressed concern about the cuts they’ll see on the campuses in Ames and Iowa City.
The hearing was disrupted briefly by a false alarm triggered by sensors in the capitol cafeteria.