Kansas and regional news

Kansas and regional news

Budget mistake could lead to court closings, furloughs late in next budget year

May 12, 2009, 9:52 a.m. Updated May 12, 2009, 4:45 p.m.


— A legislative mistake in the just-approved state budget could result in court closings and furloughs of court employees, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Davis said Tuesday.

If the Legislature and Gov. Mark Parkinson fail to address the problem early in the 2010 legislative session, which starts in January, then the state court system may be forced to furlough without pay 1,589 non-judicial employees for one week per month through June 2010, Davis said.

That could include furloughing probation officers, court clerks, administrators, court reporters and other personnel. A provision in the Kansas Constitution prohibits reducing the salaries of judges during their term in office.

In the $13 billion budget approved last week, the Legislature cut the judicial branch by $11 million, under the assumption that the funds could be made up through surcharges on docket fees, Davis said. But the surcharge was capped at $10 per fee in other legislation, he said.

“There is no way that it can cover the additional cut,” Davis said in a letter to all judicial branch employees. The $11 million cut was in addition to a 2.75 percent across-the-board cut to all state agencies.

Parkinson said if the fee increases fail to cover the budget cuts he would work with the judiciary and Legislature to craft a supplemental budget request when the next legislative session starts.

“I do not want the courts furloughing employees. I do not want the courts closed, and if we end up in that position in January, we need to fix it immediately,” Parkinson said.

But if that fails, Davis warned: “It is anticipated our non-judicial employees could be sent home for approximately one week per month for the rest of the fiscal year.”

Davis said the Supreme Court would not order any furloughs at this time, in hopes the situation can be remedied in January. In his letter to employees, he said, “Delaying the furloughs until the last prudent moment maximizes access to the courts and maximizes your and your family’s ability to prepare for the impact on your personal finances.”


roger_o_thornhill 9 years ago

This is what I have always wondered: Aren't people paid to make sure these things don't have mistakes in them?

imagold 9 years ago

Once again, state employees paying for the mistakes of others.

ralphralph 9 years ago

So, bring on the furloughs, and save some bucks. Sounds like a plan to me. There is no sacred right to a government job ... when money is tight, you need to cut back. Just because they cut back by accident ....

shockchalk 9 years ago

So ralphralph, where in the article or any of the comments do you see someone claiming a sacred right to a government job? They will resolve this issue in January but if they didn't, these folks would definitely have the right to be upset. Having your income reduced because of a major mistake by someone else isn't right, regardless of where you work.

tolawdjk 9 years ago

I think I see the loophole here.

  1. They are to fix the budget shortfalls with surcharges.
  2. Surcharges are capped at $10 per surcharge.

I didn't see any statement that capped the # of surcharges!

So, the first eleven dockets filed in January have one hundered thousand $10 "early bird" surcharges added! Problem solved!

If anyone needs anymore pressing state budget gaps filled, I'll be at the golf course.

Meryl Carver 9 years ago

Not to mention the fact that we have a right to speedy trial in this country. If the State can't bring you to trial in a timely fashion, your case gets dismissed. If court employees aren't working, cases are not going to be brought to trial in a timely fashion.

You can clamor all you want to about entitled government employees ralphralph, but they provide essential services that I, for one, don't want to live without.

fu7il3 9 years ago

The fact is they do a neccessary job and are suddenly going to lose 1/4 of their pay.

Not only does it suck for the employees, but the better ones may decide to go elsewhere for work. The entire system becomes weak as the top employees jump from the sinking ship.

Bobo Fleming 9 years ago

Or the Judges could take a little pay cut I think they make around 150,000 at this point. But wait-they cant do that can they?

trinity 9 years ago

more like they WON'T do that. and there exists judges who do virtually nothing; a docket load of 3-4 cases per morning does not a busy judge make. this "mistake" is all on the backs of the N O N judicial employees; the judges won't take a cut.

trinity 9 years ago

more like they WON'T do that. this "mistake" is all on the backs of the N O N judicial employees; the judges won't take a cut.

Jefferson_County 9 years ago

Before full scale bagging on the Judges begins, a) $150,000 sounds a little high, even for the Justices, and b) might there be a statute that prevents Judge's pay from being cut?

be_cunning 9 years ago

Oh great, judge bagging!

Sure $150,000 sounds a bit high when you think about what other people in the judicial branch make, but I would point out that judges make far less in the public sector than they would as the highly skilled, experienced lawyers they would make in the private practice. Judges who work for the State don't do it for the money, but they shouldn't be expected to work for nothing either.

And yes, there is a statute that prevents a Judge's pay from being cut -- but I think it's per term, I'm not 100% sure.

Judges are busy individuals even with this proported 3-4 cases a morning. There's background research and discussion and information for each one of those cases, and they must be prepared for each one of those cases that morning because every one of those cases matters to parties to it.

I am, by the way, one of those state employees threatened with furlough.

Jefferson_County 9 years ago

be_cunning - I was not clear. I am not implying that $150,000 is a lot of money, it is. What I meant to convey is that I don't think judges are getting paid that much. In fact, they are probably underpaid. So much for my writing skills. The bagging comment just refers to the popularity of posters on this site bagging on state employees, who I truly believe are underpaid and under appreciated.

Chris Ogle 9 years ago

Where is Dorothy when we need her???

At least we have that pig flu under control. (Sounds like something you would eat in a chinese joint.... Pig ful yong)

Alexander Neighbors 9 years ago

Well they would not be short all this money if they didnt waste it on having court hearings about blogs. Yes I am referring to the Yellow house case which now has wasted TONS of money and resources + been dropped already , but was brought back.

here is a transcript where Lawrence police officers claim they have been traumatically effected by a blog...... Not a man wielding a knife at them no no....... Not long hours in the department no sir-e-bob ..... These individuals have been effected by a blog, only way that happens is if its true and you don't want anyone to know .

somebodynew 9 years ago

was_(nothing) - I know this is a waste of my energy, but some days it is just worth it.

Could you #1 - Try to get a life. #2 - Quit trying to post on EVERY article that has any thing to do with a court. Your case is in the FEDERAL system - so no State Judge has wasted any time or money on your BS.

Just go away (and I don't care if you go away mad, just go) Everyone is tired of reading this tripe.

lawthing 9 years ago

A defendant has a right to a speedy trial.

The Yellow House case has been going on far too long!

Gawd only knows how many tax dollars have been spent and continue to be spent on this merry-go-round case.

deskboy04 9 years ago

I thought that the state legislators had high priced aides who were supposed to catch this kind of mistake.

lawthing 9 years ago

Hey Fresh,

That transcript is hilarious! Thanks for the link!

Alexander Neighbors 9 years ago

I got another one for ya the most recent documents in the case is the federal prosecutor Marietta Parker trying to claim Guy and Carrie neighbors are both Crazy and need a second mental evaluation.. even though they just had one 2 months ago, and were deemed not crazy...... because haven forbid they are innocent as they have been claiming for the last almost 5 years now.

Apparently If you are innocent and claim it and demand a trial, and to see the evidence against you. Instead of giving you a trial the prosecutor tries to claim your crazy in an attempt to forgo the trial.

If your wondering if this is real....yes it is, I cant make stuff up....

trinity 9 years ago

ok so it seems that while court employees other than judges may possibly be having one week per month off with no pay, that is 1/4 of their monthly pay cut off, the judges will still be sittin' pretty, fat, and happy with their full pay-but having a week off also?
somehow this is just wrong. it doesn't matter what anybody says or how they try to justify it-that is dead wrong.

Maracas 9 years ago

If they shut the courts down for a week every month, judges will be getting paid for the off-week while golfing, watching videos and otherwise goofing off. The remainder of court personnel will be sitting at home wondering how they are going to pay the mortgage, pay the bills, and eat. Apparently, they'll be able to file for unemployment benefits for that off week after a time, so that might help a bit. Court personnel get paid roughly 25% less than their counterparts in other states, so add an additional 25% pay cut on to that and it won't be pretty.

To top it off, when they come back from the off week, the work will be piled up from a week's worth of mail and attorneys and other parties will be lined up to file things they couldn't file the previous week. Stuff that couldn't be heard during the off week will be continued to a later date and the dockets will be overloaded. Add to that they will be even more short-staffed from the state not replacing people who retire or quit, and you have a recipe for a complete mess in the state judicial system.

And there might even be a few ne'er-do-wells who get their criminal cases dismissed because they could not exercise their right to a speedy trial. Criminal matters will probably get priority, so the money you hoped to collect from your civil suit will just have to wait, and so might your hearing to get more child support. Oh yeah, great fun to had by all.

In short, this will affect more than just court employees.

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