A plan to close court offices around the state for one day in May to help meet a budget shortfall is coming under scrutiny but the chief spokesman for the Judicial Branch is defending the plan.
Rank and file court employees will take a one-day unpaid leave on May 26th while judges and magistrates will be exempt.
In a letter to court employees, Court Administrator David Boyd said it’s a matter of equity.
“Judges and magistrates have had only one pay increase since July 1 of 2008 and that was about three years ago,” Boyd said. “In the meantime state employees, generally including judicial branch employees, have had pay increases.”
In remarks on the floor of the House, Rep. Andy McKean (R-Anamosa) asked the courts to include the judges and magistrates in the furlough.
“I think it would send the right message,” Mckean said.
But Boyd says by constitution and by law, judges and magistrates have to be on duty at all times.
“There are different types of cases, criminal cases, mental health cases that judges have to deal with whether or not they have the support staff there with them,” Boyd said.
The judicial branch is required to cut $3 million from its budget for the fiscal year that ends in June.
Boyd says most of that is being met by leaving open positions unfilled.
Boyd says in e-mails he has received, state court personnel have supported the one-day furlough.
Raising judges’ salaries is one of the courts’ priorities for the legislative session.