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Archive for Thursday, September 19, 2013

Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nuss says court closings possible because of state budget

September 19, 2013, 11:18 a.m. Updated September 19, 2013, 4:17 p.m.

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Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

— Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said today that the judiciary budget for next year approved by the Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback could result in shutting down all state courts for seven weeks.

“This is a terrible prospect to consider,” Nuss said in announcing the appointment of a 10-member budget advisory committee.

The committee will be tasked with studying the consequences for Kansans if the Legislature fails to change the appropriations to courts.

Nuss said the budget approved for the year starting July 1, 2014, was $8.25 million less than the judicial branch’s base budget request and $16 million less than its total budget request.

Nuss noted that budget shortfalls in 2010 and 2012 led to temporary court closings.

“Given this experience, we know that the simple solution to an $8.25 million reduction would be to close all state courts for about 7 weeks.

“While the court budget advisory council will consider many solutions to the underfunding problem, some statewide court closures may necessarily be part of their recommendations,” Nuss said.

The 10-member advisory council includes judges, attorneys, law enforcement, business representatives and a state legislator. It will hold its first meeting Oct. 7.

The Legislature appropriated $127 million for the judicial branch for the current fiscal year and nearly $128 million for the next one.

But the budget for the previous fiscal year was nearly $132 million.

Brownback’s office said the judiciary’s budget was the product of the Legislature.

“Kansas law requires the Governor to include the request from the courts in his request unchanged, which he did. However, the Kansas Constitution gives the legislature the power of the purse,” the governor’s office said.

Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said, “The Legislature passed a two-year budget to provide predictability for state agencies. However, the process does not do anything to prohibit state agencies and legislators from proposing amendments after the budget is passed.”

Comments

wastewatcher 1 year, 3 months ago

Nuss would be better off if he would quit making threats and do what most Kansans are doing-- that is simply more with less. He could start by insisting that Judges work an honest 45 hours a week, each and every week. Most of the Judges feel like they are Kings and Primadonnas.

Jefferson_County 1 year, 3 months ago

Then I guess you are suggesting that the Judges can man the entire operation by themselves without any staff. Probably 90+ percent of their budget is personnel, so that is the only conclusion I can draw. Great simplistic argument, though, if you are a teabagger.

tomatogrower 1 year, 3 months ago

They could just let the criminals go. I'm sure you would welcome them in your house.

kerryaltenbernd 1 year, 3 months ago

I am really getting tired of people commenting on things that they know nothing about. Just how do you make justice more efficient? Not bother with pesky things like getting your day in court or trial by jury?

The Douglas County District Court is working flat out to keep up with the volume of cases coming to it from law enforcement. Calling for it to to be more efficient is just rhetoric put out by those who have an ax to grind. Come work in the Court system for a while and we'll see how much more efficient you can make it. And by the way, they do take volunteers, if you really mean it.

And another thing, judges' salaries are not included in any cuts that the State makes to the courts. Their salaries are set by the legislature separately from anything else. They are paid whether or not the courts are open. The people that are hurt are your friends and neighbors who work hard at their jobs and care about the people they serve, and can't do their jobs if they are furloughed.

Access to justice is a fundamental right of all United States citizens, and a State government that is unwilling to fund it is failing in its duty to those citizens!

Talk is cheap! Justice is not!

Shelley Bock 1 year, 3 months ago

You said it, KA! I'm in full agreement.

scott3460 1 year, 3 months ago

Slowing justice serves the interests of the "job creators" so I predict the tea bagger horde will see this as a good thing. Those who cheat, harm, pollute, etc may breath a bit easier, the likelihood of those wrongs being addressed will now be reduced. And all brought to you by those who proclaim so loudly to love Amurica and law and order. Pitiful fools!

kugrad2003 1 year, 3 months ago

96% of the budget for the judicial branch goes to pay the wages of the judicial workers. While the executive branch received a pay increase, the judiciary still had to do more with less funding. I am grateful to have a job, but the Legislature should be able to fund our base budget without having the looming threat of court closures hanging over the branch. All Kansans deserve access to the courts - not just when the Legislature feels like funding them.

scott3460 1 year, 3 months ago

Why would any wrongdoer ever settle knowing justice will be delayed or denied?

Centerville 1 year, 3 months ago

Italian marble has become so outré, How can you taxpayers live with yourselves if you force them to work in those conditions? Shame.

Liberty275 1 year, 2 months ago

Here's a novel idea, stop charging people with crimes that don't violate the rights of others.

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