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Court Closings

THE KANSAS SUPREME COURT ANNOUNCED DATES FOR SCHEDULED FURLOUGHS OF COURT EMPLOYEES AND THE CLOSING OF KANSAS COURTS. STATEWIDE CLOSINGS OF ALL DISTRICT AND APPELLATE COURTS ARE SET FOR APRIL 13 AND 27TH, MAY 11 AND 25TH, AND JUNE 8TH. THE SCHEDULED COURT CLOSINGS ARE NECESSARY BECAUSE OF THE LEGISLATURE’S FAILURE LAST WEEK TO APPROVE A $1.4 MILLION SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION FOR THE JUDICIAL BRANCH THAT HAD BEEN AGREED
TO EARLIER BY HOUSE AND SENATE NEGOTIATORS. THAT FUNDING WAS HELD UP DUE TO AN IMPASSE OVER OTHER UNRELATED ISSUES INCLUDED IN THE SAME APPROPRIATION MEASURE. IN A LETTER CHIEF JUSTICE LAWTON NUSS SENT TO KEY LEGISLATORS IN FEBRUARY, HE ADVISED THEM THAT
ACTION ON THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION WOULD BE REQUIRED NO LATER THAN MARCH 31 TO AVOID EMPLOYEE FURLOUGHS AND COURT CLOSURES. THIS DATE WAS PICKED BECAUSE IT ALLOWED THE JUDICIAL
BRANCH TO SPREAD OUT THE FURLOUGH DAYS REQUIRED TO MAKE UP THE MISSING FUNDS OVER THE REMAINING PAY PERIODS IN THE FISCAL YEAR. TO DELAY LONGER WOULD REQUIRE THE JUDICIAL BRANCH TO CONCENTRATE
FURLOUGHS OVER A SHORTER NUMBER OF PAY PERIODS, IF THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION FAILED FOR SOME REASON AFTER THE LEGISLATURE RETURNS IN LATE APRIL. HAVING MORE THAN ONE FURLOUGH DAY PER PAY PERIOD WOULD MEAN PAYROLL LOSSES WOULD BE GREATER AND MORE DIFFICULT FOR 1,500 EMPLOYEES TO MANAGE. A ONE-DAY FURLOUGH EACH PAY PERIOD REDUCES AN EMPLOYEE’S PAYCHECK BY ABOUT 10 PERCENT. THE NEED FOR A SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION WAS MADE KNOWN TO THE LEGISLATURE IN JANUARY WHEN THE JUDICIAL BRANCH ADVISED IT HAD MORE THAN A $1 MILLION SHORTFALL IN ITS CURRENT FY 2012 BUDGET. THE SHORTFALL OCCURRED BECAUSE A PORTION OF THE JUDICIAL BRANCH BUDGET COMES FROM CASE FILING FEES, AND CASE FILINGS WERE DOWN DURING THE FIRST HALF OF THE FISCAL YEAR. THIS DROP IN CASE FILINGS CAUSED A LOSS OF REVENUE. THE JUDICIAL BRANCH BUDGET IS PRIMARILY MADE UP OF WAGES AND SALARIES BECAUSE MOST OTHER JUDICIAL OPERATIONS ARE PAID BY COUNTIES. THE SHORTFALL EQUATES TO ABOUT 5 DAYS OF COURT OPERATIONS FOR EMPLOYEE WAGES AND SALARIES. THERE ARE ABOUT 1,500 JUDICIAL EMPLOYEES AFFECTED BY THE FURLOUGH ORDER BECAUSE SALARIES OF JUDGES CANNOT BE LOWERED UNDER THE KANSAS CONSTITUTION
UNLESS ALL STATE OFFICERS’ SALARIES ARE REDUCED. JUDGES WILL BE WORKING IN THEIR OFFICES ON THOSE DAYS.