Keep Iowa’s courts first-rate

Chief Justice Mark Cady makes sound case for budget increase

Iowa has a court system that is the envy of many other states. Its high quality is a source of pride to Hawkeye State residents. Keeping our state’s courts world class should be a priority for lawmakers. They should heed the sensible recommendations of Chief Justice Mark Cady when budget decisions are made this year.

Iowa’s Supreme Court is led by a Fort Dodger. In his role as chief justice, Cady presented recommendations to the Legislature Wednesday as part of his State of the Judiciary address. He made clear that enhanced funding is needed if our judiciary system is to fulfill its roles and potential optimally. Years of tight budgets have limited the ability to make needed enhancements.

With that in mind, he submitted a budget request that would increase funding to just short of $185 million. That up $7.3 million — about 4 percent — from the current year.

The additional monies would allow an investment in technological advances that, according to Cady, will make it easier for people to conduct an array of activities online and in other ways improve the court system’s efficiency. The digital upgrades would cost about $2.5 million. Some of the new funds also would be devoted to an initiative aimed at strengthening courts in the state’s rural communities. That project would involve modest staffing increases and cost $1.6 million. It is an option that would clearly benefit north central Iowa.

Even though the budget Cady proposed is larger than the slightly less than $183 million Gov. Kim Reynolds has recommended, lawmakers should give it serious consideration. The Messenger agrees with the chief justice that appropriate funding for the state’s judicial system is crucially important. The already superb Iowa court system has the potential to be even better. The Legislature should find the money to make possible Cady’s vision for the year ahead — and beyond.