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A preliminary study is one that is conducted to develop an initial framework of analysis and/or to gain an initial assessment to provide enough understanding of the research issue so as to inform the direction of a more complete and comprehensive data collection, study analysis, and policymaking deliberation. On November 8, 2001, the Iowa General Assembly and Governor approved a 4.3 percent across-the-board state budget reduction. This reduced the Judicial Branch budget by $5.5 million. In anticipation of and in response to fiscal concerns, the Judicial Branch announced plans for restructuring the Iowa court system. Iowa citizens and community and interest group leaders are interested in having the impacts of the proposals identified and assessed to assist in informing state and local discussions and future decisions. It is the result of this interest for which the Department of Economics and Iowa Vitality Center at Iowa State University have undertaken this study. The Iowa State Bar Association contributed funding for the project. The author has developed a significant track record and expertise in conducting numerous studies on related public finance and government structure issues for Iowa policymakers, leaders and citizens during the past 15 years. He is solely responsible for directing this study, the study findings and the conclusions. The purpose of study is to provide an objective assessment of the impacts and to gather local observations and perspectives that may be useful in public discussions and planning next steps toward future public decisions.

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28 pages