SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- The budget-cutting axe continues to swing in Iowa. Today, the state's judicial branch announced how it would save just over four million dollars. This comes as court officials say the system is "stretched thin" as it is.
It's all part of Governor Chet Culver's ten percent, across-the-board budget cuts, affecting almost every state agency.
Altogether, the Judicial Branch has to cut between eight and sixteen million dollars, statewide.
Tuesday, the State Supreme Court announced all judicial employees must take ten, unpaid, furlough days before the end of fiscal year 2010, which ends in June. Since no employees will be working on these ten scheduled days, that means the courthouses will be forced to shut down as well. Officials say hours at the clerk of court offices could also be cut, to allow for employees to catch up on work.
District Court Administrator Leesa McNeil says, "The court is working to make sure that even during closure hours, even though these judges are on furlough too, that there will probably be some emergency type of access to judicial officers."
McNeil says some of that negative impact could be felt in public safety. As a result, action on some domestic abuse cases, restraining orders and injunction orders will likely be delayed.
McNeil says Iowa courts are already stretched thin, but officials are trying their best to maintain service.
"The court is working to make sure that even during closure hours, even though these judges are on furlough too, that there will probably be some type of emergency access to judicial officers," McNeil said.
The first furlough day is scheduled for Friday, December 4 with the last of the ten on June 18, 2010.
These cuts are only the first round for the judicial branch this week. McNeil says, later on this week, the court will announce further cost-saving measures in the form of reduced hours for employees, open positions going unfilled, and in some cases, layoffs. These further cuts could affect up to 31 positions in the third district.