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Chief Nuss Announces Court Closings, Furloughs

KSCB News - April 4, 2012 10:26 am

The Kansas Supreme Court today 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.
“This impasse creates an operational dilemma for the state court system because without
the supplemental appropriation, we do not have enough money to make our payroll through the
end of the fiscal year. And as of today, we have no assurance we will have that appropriation to
operate through the end of this fiscal year,” explained Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss.

In a letter Chief Justice 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 Supreme Court simply believes it has no real choice but to act now, rather than face
the uncertainties of what may happen when the legislature returns,” Chief Justice Nuss
continued. “If we gamble on getting the supplemental appropriation when the legislature returns,
but something arises that prevents it, then the impact on our employees is more severe over the
time that is left. We will rescind the remaining furlough days if the supplemental appropriation is
approved.”

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.

 

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