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SIOUX CITY | Court workers across the state will take an unpaid day off on May 26 to help meet a $3 million reduction in the Iowa Judicial Branch's current fiscal year budget.

The furlough day, in addition to leaving all current open judgeships and staff positions unfilled, is expected to be the only action needed to help the court system make budget. No layoffs are in the plan.

That doesn't make it any easier, said Leesa McNeil, court administrator for the 3rd Judicial District, which includes 16 Northwest Iowa counties.

"Having a day taken off of your paycheck is no small matter," McNeil said. "It is inexcusable to think we can squeeze the Judicial Branch out of existence when we don't have the resources needed to function."

The Iowa Legislature on Monday sent legislation to Gov. Terry Branstad to cut $117.8 million from the state budget for the final five months of this fiscal year. The cuts were necessary because of lower-than-expected revenues. Of that total cuts, $3 million is to come from the Judicial Branch.

The Judicial Branch took swift action, declaring the statewide one-day furlough of court employees, including juvenile court officers, court reporters, clerk of court offices and court administration. Judges will work that day, but likely will not be able conduct hearings because there will be no support staff.

"Things that require staff assistance to complete will not be done," McNeil said.

In the 3rd District, 140 people will be affected, McNeil said. A district associate judge position and 11 other vacancies will remain unfilled for the foreseeable future.

McNeil said the one-day furlough will affect people across the state who depend on the court system to do business or have personal matters resolved.

"The public will come to the courthouse (on May 26) and expect all the public services to be available to them. They'll see all the county offices open but the court offices will be closed," McNeil said.

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