Archive for Friday, November 6, 2009

Kansas Supreme Court chief justice said budget problems could force courts to close

November 6, 2009

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— Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Davis said Friday that courts will be shut down one week each month starting in February if Gov. Mark Parkinson and the Legislature don’t fix an $8 million shortfall in the judiciary budget.

“If the $8 million is not restored to our budget by swift legislative action, then the Supreme Court will have no choice but to order courts closed and staff placed on involuntary unpaid leave ...” Davis said in memo to court employees.

The 2010 legislative session starts in January.

During the 2009 session, 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 in May. But the surcharge was capped at $10 per fee in other legislation, he said.

Key lawmakers and Parkinson have since said they intend to the fix the problem as soon as possible in the 2010 session.

But Davis said Friday he felt the need to bring the issue up again because state officials on Thursday announced that state revenue for the current fiscal year will fall $235 million below a previous estimate.

At a legislative forum earlier this week, several key legislators said there is a commitment in the Legislature to correct the funding problems in the judicial branch.

“There will be a lot of interest and a lot of pressure to address this,” said House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson.

Comments

devobrun 5 years, 7 months ago

Let's have a chili feed for the Supremes.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 7 months ago

This sounds like blackmail to me. Are we going to have judges and staff on food stamps now? Bring back the true justice of Judge Roy Bean. If we are going to have a chili feed have one for Lady GaGa to buy her a new outfit. Hopenchange? Wasn't she Selena Cross on Peyton Place? Oh, sorry, that was Hope Lange.

Jonathan Becker 5 years, 7 months ago

And when the court's close, and you are robbed or your property is damaged, where are you going to find justice? When you have a dispute with neighbor about the property line, how are you going to resolve it? Don't sit there and say good riddance to bad rubbish. The monomaniacal movement to reduce taxes leaves us with no justice.

Dan Eyler 5 years, 6 months ago

This is a perfect time to re establish a balance of power with the courts. They over stepped their boundaries on school funding and they need to be set straight with their own funding. For every percent shortfall in tax revenue the same cut for the courts.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

"They over stepped their boundaries on school funding and they need to be set straight with their own funding."

They're merely enforcing the Kansas Constitution. Those who wish to dismantle the public school system must first change the constitution, after which the Supreme Court will no longer seek to intervene.

wastewatcher 5 years, 6 months ago

Good, then we could cut the Judges pay, oops, I forgot the Judges get paid if they work or not and it is mostly not. Look around and see where the Judges are when they are getting paid.

trinity 5 years, 6 months ago

wastewatcher's comment should be heeded; he/she is correct-judges will still get paid the same, and be getting a week off WITH pay. their salary will NOT take a hit with this impending closing. it's only the peons who will suffer. how nice for the judiciary. judges were actually asked/encouraged to "offer" some of their pay in order to save court staff's jobs; i really doubt any of 'em jumped forward to pitch in. this is simply atrocious. go back&change the legislation that prohibits judge's pay from being cut.

kugrad2003 5 years, 6 months ago

Some of you are total idiots. If the courts close for a week each month, what will one do if they need to file for a protection order? What about those people who count on receiving child support each week? What if you're arrested on a week that the court is closed? Do you sit in jail for a week because the legislature didn't properly fund the courts?

The support staff suffers due to the lack in funding - to lose your paycheck for one week per month (two weeks in one of those months) will be devastating to many of the judicial employees. If this was going to be a problem in the beginning, employees could have been furloughed one or two days a month for the entire fiscal year instead of having to take a week off per month for five months. How much more manageable would it have been then?

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 6 months ago

kugrad, thank you for bringing up a lot of very important issues. This will be horrible for the staff, and with thanksgiving and christmas coming up. Will the staff now qualify for food stamps? Cut everyones pay check, give them state aid to make up for the loss, and that helps the budget, how?

bretherite 5 years, 6 months ago

If I am reading this correctly it is the STATE SUPREME COURT that will close a week each month NOT the county or city courts so if you need a restraining order or a child support issue handled it won't be a problem. These things and getting arrested are NOT handled by the SUPREME court the are handled by lower courts. And this article indicates it is the STATE SUPREME court that will close.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 6 months ago

"bretherite (Anonymous) says… If I am reading this correctly it is the state supreme court that will close a week each month NOT the county or city courts so if you need a restraining order or a child support issue handled it won't be a problem. These things and getting arrested are NOT handled by the supreme court the are handled by lower courts. And this article indicates it is the state supreme court that will close."

You are not reading it correctly. The state supreme court administrates the entire states court system. All courts would be closing, not just the state supreme court.

Regardless, the state supreme court is extremely important to the judiciary system in this state and the court already does not have enough time in the week to deal with what it needs to do (this also applies to all the other courts in this state as well). The court system is already under funded and because of this not functioning as adequately as it should be, this is not a good idea. It is unfortunate that people who don't know anything about the legal system dislike it to such a degree that they would support this action when it could directly have an effect on all of the benefits living in a society like ours grants us.

poncagirl 5 years, 6 months ago

So, all the Republicans who've worked so hard to make this into a Third World Country....may finally get to live in one.

Maracas 5 years, 6 months ago

No, it's not just the Supreme Court. The entire Kansas judicial system will shut down for one week a month, and two weeks in one month.

If you're arrested on the weekend before the courts close, either without bail or you can't make bail, you may be cooling your heels in the county hotel for a week or so. When they come back to work, they will already have a lot to catch up on. An already over-worked, under-staffed and underfunded judiciary will be just that much more behind. Thanks, Kansas legislature.

poppygirl 5 years, 6 months ago

I would certainly hope that they would stagger furloughed staff for this week layoff so that the offices would still be opened, but with a skelton staff so to speak. And would like to think as well that these employee's could collect unemployment for this furloughed time ?

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