Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Judicial officials to reconsider closings after assurances from legislators who say they don’t understand how courts couldn’t trust them to provide funding

April 20, 2012


— The Kansas Supreme Court said Friday it will reconsider future court closings and employee furloughs after key legislators promised that the judicial branch would receive funding to cover a revenue shortfall.

Chief Justice Lawton Nuss issued a statement saying he was “encouraged by the assurances given today by the chair of the House Appropriations Committee and other committee members that the Judicial Branch would receive its supplemental appropriation for Fiscal Year 2012. The Court will meet Monday to consider this development.”

Earlier Friday, Appropriations Chair Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, and other members of the Appropriations Committee promised to fund the judiciary when the legislative session reconvenes next week.

They also criticized the decision by Nuss to close courts and issue employee furloughs for five days. They said Nuss should have known the Legislature would provide the funds needed by the courts even though the Legislature had a budget meltdown and failed to approve the funding before taking a nearly month-long break.

The judicial system needed $1.4 million to make payroll for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Both the House and Senate agreed on the funding, but the overall budget deal fell apart when the House refused to sign the appropriations bill because of a dispute over school funding.

A few days after legislators left town, Nuss ordered the courts closed for five days, resulting in the furlough without pay of 1,500 employees. The first furlough occurred April 13, and the remaining ones are scheduled for April 27, May 11, May 18 and June 8.

During a meeting of the Appropriations Committee on Friday, Republican and Democratic legislators expressed unhappiness with the decision, saying that they were getting heat from constituents.

“If I’m going to get beat up, I want to know why,” state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said to Kim Fowler, the judicial branch fiscal officer, who spoke with the committee.

Appropriations committee members said Nuss should have realized that despite the budget breakdown, the Legislature eventualy would have provided the dollars.

State Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, told Fowler that he was struggling with the idea of why the courts couldn’t trust the Legislature.

But Fowler said that when the Legislature took its annual break, legislators made no assurances that the funding would be forthcoming. Nuss had been warning legislators since January of the need for supplemental funds because of a drop in case filing fees.

Fowler noted that House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, issued news releases that said the courts should use internal funds to make up the shortfall, something that Nuss said was inappropriate.

But Rhoades said the Legislature always intended to provide the funding. “We’ve already taken the public hit,” he said.


somebodynew 3 years, 7 months ago

And if I were Nuss, I would believe that money will be there after the check clears. Particularly since O'Neal already told him to take it from somewhere else.

These guys/gals Are from the Gov't but I don't believe the check is in the mail.

rgh 3 years, 7 months ago

"State Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, told Fowler that he was struggling with the idea of why the courts couldn't trust the Legislature." No one trusts the legislature or Brownback. Kansas is fast becoming one the laughing stocks of America for not valuing education or our elderly.

frankfussman 3 years, 7 months ago

...and elswhere..."Romney campaign tries to distance itself from key immigration adviser. Kris Kobach, author behind some of the US's most strict immigration laws, has apparently been demoted to 'supporter' http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/17/mitt-romney-campaign-immigration-adviser?newsfeed=true

Mike1949 3 years, 7 months ago

It is pretty bad when not only the people of Kansas don't trust our Kansas politicians, but they courts don't either. Doesn't that kind of tell you what kind of shape this State is in? I would be like the posters further on down by just laughing,but the problem is . . . . "It isn't funny!" . . . . . !

Betty Bartholomew 3 years, 7 months ago

"State Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, told Fowler that he was struggling with the idea of why the courts couldn't trust the Legislature."

Hahahahahahahaha! Oh my, what a funny statement. I mean, the legislature always funds the things they say they'll fund, right?

My sides hurt, I laughed so hard...

Boston_Corbett 3 years, 7 months ago

"Legislators say they don’t understand how courts couldn’t trust them to provide funding"

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha h ha ha

question4u 3 years, 7 months ago

Is anyone dumb enough to believe Marc Rhoades? Rhoades is doing his best to out-snake Mike O'Neal. Why do Kansans insist on giving power to the dregs of humanity?

mdlund0 3 years, 7 months ago

Because the dregs of humanity are the only ones running for office.

verity 3 years, 7 months ago

Wipes off computer screen as she picks herself up from the floor gasping and choking.

You couldn't make this stuff up. We don't need no comedians in Kansas---even Colbert and Stewart couldn't top this.

somedude20 3 years, 7 months ago

"I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you” - Friedrich Nietzsche "Don't trust the person who has broken faith once.” - William Shakespeare

jimmyjms 3 years, 7 months ago

Marc Rhoades is all over the paper today. The man is a disgrace.

George Lippencott 3 years, 7 months ago

Did any of you learn anything about the operation of the legislature or the courts.

The courts have funding enough without using any "other funds" to pay for the employees through at least the middle of June. The money is in the appropriations bills to cover the rest and baring some really strange event (or aggravation) that money will be there in early May. There is no problem and it is confusing as to why the courts already furloughed anybody

Are we letting our strong hatred of Republicans so color our reality that we ignore facts and fall back on spewing venom? If the hoard above is representative of any significant portion of the electorate I fear for the future of the country

Greg Cooper 3 years, 7 months ago

The fact is, Moderate, that the money to fund the courts is NOT there, but is in the minds of the Republicans who always over-promise and under-deliver. What in God's name should make the courts believe another legislative lie when so many things they, and Bromnback, promised are not now reality?

It's easy to laugh at this situation and the silly things the legislators say, but, really now, there can be little doubt in anyone's mind that this is just another of the "trust me" issues that make the Kansas legislature and its "leaders" laughers.

mdlund0 3 years, 7 months ago

"The courts have funding enough without using any "other funds" to pay for the employees through at least the middle of June." And where is that information coming from? It's not in the article.

Without a guarantee that additional funding will become available, it's much better to anticipate the upcoming problems and shut down in a controlled and orderly fashion than it is to slam the gate shut in the chaotic final moments of the fiscal year.

ProfessorSeamus 3 years, 7 months ago

The Court's hand was forced by the legislature. As you state, there is enough money budgeted to last through some time in June. But not enough to last until the start of the fiscal year. The Court calculated that it would have to furlough employees for five days to meet the shortfall. If they did nothing now, and the legislature again failed to come up with the funding, then the furlough would have had to happen in a condensed period. This creates two serious problems. First, the employees being furloughed have one paycheck that comes up extremely short. By stretching the furlough into five different pay periods I believe the Supreme Court was trying to minimize the impact on their employees. Second, Friday is generally the lightest docket day. Cancelling five Fridays has a much smaller impact on the overall docket than cancelling five consecutive days in late June.

The bottom line is this - the Supreme Court went to the legislature in January with this problem. The legislature failed to pass any legislation fixing the problem before they left town in April. With less than two months before the end of the year, the Court had two options. Start cutting costs immediately or wait and hope the legislature decided to fix the problem eventually. If the Court did not step in now and waited until the end of June there would have been an uproar about how they should've known better, etc.

I was at the Courthouse the day the furlough was announced. The Court staff was incredibly frustrated - many of them have not received a raise in years. The furlough has thrown judicial dockets into disarray and it has made it harder to get a hearing set. It is a bad situation all around. But it is a bad situation created by the legislature. If they would have spent less time condeming 20 year old UN resolutions, they might have been able to actually take care of the business for which they were elected.

billbodiggens 3 years, 7 months ago

Oh Mark "Lonesome" Rhoades can not figure out why we distrust the legislature? ? The one thing that can be counted on is not being able to count on the legislature, especially "Lonesome" Rhoades, “let-them-eat-cake” Rhoades, a demigod of huge proportions. He is either insincere or dumber than a box of rocks. Either way does not bode well in the trust department.

billbodiggens 3 years, 7 months ago

We, the people of Kansas, can only take so much from that pack of hounds.

honestone 3 years, 7 months ago

Will any of the "trust" situations mentioned here cause people to get out and vote this time??? I doubt it...

George Lippencott 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for reinforcing my point. Also thank you for displaying ignorance, again, about how the legislature works.

Se this mornings paper

weeslicket 3 years, 7 months ago

... and the kansas legislative crazy train just keeps chug-chug-chugging along.

Centerville 3 years, 7 months ago

The judicial has 1. plenty of money and 2. plenty of discretion about how to use it. Nuss is just grandstanding and Scott Rothschild is his very own Don King.

verity 3 years, 7 months ago

If the legislature does come through, can the remaining furloughs be canceled?

Besides the other reasons Chief Justice Nuss had for doing this (all of which seem logical to me), perhaps this will put the pressure on for the legislature to do what they're being paid to do. People get real unhappy when their paychecks and livelihood are affected in a negative manner.

Kathy Theis-Getto 3 years, 7 months ago

Too bad people don't get as unhappy when the fools refuse to fund education for our children.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 7 months ago

The Justice Department acted appropriately. I, for one, expect the government to plan ith the money they have, not the money they don't have.

volunteer 3 years, 7 months ago

Too bad the Chief Justice will always bear the infamy of having to apologize and getting admonished for his breach of judicial ethics several years back in that school finance case. A Chief not so tainted may have commanded enough respect for the legislature to listen to him and act accordingly.

But then one recalls some of the antics (fringe right-winger Ellie Mae from Ottawa and the flashing red light in her purse) during this session, and decides that no, we just have some irresponsible kooks in the legislature, particularly on the House side.

Liberty275 3 years, 7 months ago

Has the legislature ever failed to fund the judiciary in Kansas before?

kugrad2003 3 years, 7 months ago

Sadly, yes. We were furloughed in 2010 as well. It's ridiculous that the workers in the judicial branch have to bear the brunt of the ineptitude of the Legislature.

Liberty275 3 years, 7 months ago

Sorry if you lost out in the melees past and present, and I don't mean to be callous. However, from our perspective in the private world, it's better to see the branches of government fighting amongst themselves than against us.

pace 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't want the judicial offices or the schools to trust the intent of the present ks. Legislature and Governor. Wait for the check to clear, better careful now than worse later.

overthemoon 3 years, 7 months ago

So...is this another subterfuge to let the privatization of our courts begin?? Hey, just ask the Koch boys for some money, no strings attached. Just big chains.

Alceste 3 years, 7 months ago


The "workers" who went on " unpaid furlough" will be fully paid as if they had been on vacation. That's how the court system works in Kansas....

jej 3 years, 7 months ago

Unless you know something I don't, we WILL NOT be paid for the furlough day on the 13th. There is the possibility that we will receive partial shared unemployment pay for the other furlough days. But there are very strict conditions that must be met to receive that pay. And it won't be until after the second furlough day's paycheck.

Alceste 3 years, 7 months ago

shrug Court workers/staff are: Hand picked; underworked; overpaid; and haven't a clue what it's like to work for a living. Just ask your "administrators" who rake in lots of dough to do nothing but pose. Don't get Alceste going on how much "work" (really NON-work) the "judges" do....or don't do....all depends on how ya look at it.

Alceste asserts the legislature will make certain court workers get full pay for days NOT worked....it is what it is....appreciate how good you gots it....

Maracas 3 years, 7 months ago

Underworked and overpaid? Your ignorance is amazing, especially when you state things as fact.

Alceste 3 years, 7 months ago

...so I take it we agree these workers ARE hand picked, however? Glad we found a common ground!

Alceste 3 years, 7 months ago

With all due respect: Do you recognize how long it takes "court workers" to move a single piece of paper from the in tray to the out tray? Jeeessshhhhh....

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 7 months ago

The right wing populists in the Kansas GOP are very good at getting elected.

The problem is, they must govern once elected.

The abject failure of the Kansas legislature to govern is on display with this case, and many others.

Getting elected by vowing to destroy government makes it tough to govern once elected. Like the bull governing the china shop.

Stop electing the wrecking crew, as Tom Franks calls them.

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