The Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday approved a 2021-2022 judicial branch budget that officials say will provide the courts the resources needed to transition from pandemic court services and processes to post-pandemic operations. The $189.6 million budget, a 4.7%  increase over the current fiscal year's budget, includes additional funding for four district associate judges and 17 clerk of court positions for mostly rural counties. The additional money will allow the judicial branch to add the judge and staff positions needed to provide important court services to Iowans across the state, Chief Justice Susan Christensen said in a news release. According to workload formulas developed by the National Center for State Courts, Iowa needs 10 additional district judge positions and 20 additional district associate judge positions to manage the current judicial branch workload. The addition of four district associate judges this fiscal year is the first step in a plan to address the deficit by adding four new district associate judge positions a year for five years. The Iowa Legislature approved a 3% salary increase for judicial officers. The budget also includes a 1.1% salary increase for court employees other than judicial officers, and a 1% step increase. The judicial branch can also begin to fill positions left vacant or frozen during the last fiscal year.