Archive for Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Court’s budget pitched again

Chief justice says fee increases meant to be temporary

March 18, 2003


— Chief Justice Kay McFarland made another pitch Monday for the Kansas Supreme Court's budget proposals, which still await legislative endorsement.

The judicial branch is seeking an 8.3 percent increase in funding from general revenues for the fiscal year beginning July 1, to bring the total to $87.7 million.

Some of the additional $6.7 million would cover higher costs for health insurance and pensions.

But about half the new funding would replace revenue from special surcharges on fees imposed by the Supreme Court last year. Those fees added $5 to the cost of a typical court filing and $25 to the cost of a marriage license, raising both to $75.

In her annual State of the Judiciary address, delivered in writing to legislators Monday, McFarland pointed out that the surcharges were supposed to have been temporary.

"Public confidence in the judiciary is a cornerstone of our system of government," McFarland wrote. "We have an excellent court system that would be in grave danger of irreparable harm if underfunded for performance of its essential operations."

Both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee have endorsed covering the courts' additional pension, health insurance and salary costs.

But their budgets assume the surcharges will remain in effect at least one more year, given the state's extremely tight revenue.

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