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Efficiencies in Iowa courts save taxpayers money
by By Liz Mathis State Senator · January 19th, 2017

This week we faced an announcement from the Governor and Lt. Governor that the legislature must make mid-year budget cuts. Some feel the shortfall is from the agriculture downtown and others believe it's from giving away too many tax cuts and credits. Either way, we will be working to cut more than $100 million out of this year's budget before we go onto the next fiscal year.

There is one group that will have to find more than $7 million to cut. But leaders made a plea to reverse the trend. In his annual State of the Judiciary address, Chief Justice Mark Cady laid out the importance of investing in our courts and why it matters for families, public safety, and all Iowa taxpayers.

Our courts have done a lot of good on a tight budget over the years, but the Governor's proposal to cut them even more will deprive many Iowans of justice, and could stop the progress and innovation Iowa's world-class courts are known for.

In recent years, the Judicial Branch has improved juvenile court services. By increasing the number of well-trained juvenile court officers, they are able to have more face-to-face interactions with young offenders, resulting in fewer future offenses. In fact, the number of juvenile offenders entering Iowa's prison system has been cut in half.

In addition, diversion programs for low-risk youth help to keep them out of the court system. These programs are so successful that more communities and schools want to implement them.

Iowa's specialty courts - including drug, mental health, domestic abuse, and veterans' courts - have done a great job of tackling the problems which lead to crime. These courts focus on helping offenders change their behavior so that they don't commit new crimes.

The success of our courts is good for all Iowans. Courts improve our quality of life by making us safer, keeping families together, helping offenders become productive members of their communities, saving taxpayer dollars, and setting young people on a positive track to adulthood. As always, email me with concerns or questions at
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