Topeka 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.