Remaining Kansas judicial furloughs canceled

Plans to temporarily close the state court system have been canceled after the Legislature approved a new budget over the weekend.

Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said the four remaining days of unpaid furloughs for 1,500 court employees were scrapped after lawmakers approved $1.1 million in funding to get through the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

“While technically the funds are not assured until Gov. (Sam) Brownback signs the budget bill,” Nuss said, “I am confident a bill will be signed.”

The courts had planned to close Thursday and Friday and again June 7 and 8 after the Legislature failed to approve a budget at the end of March.

Nuss said all of the trials and hearings previously scheduled for this week may still be postponed.

He said it would be difficult to round up all the participants — lawyers, witnesses and potential jurors — on such short notice.

The judicial branch “is like an aircraft carrier under way in the open sea, not like a bass boat on a Kansas fishing lake,” Nuss said in a statement.

The courts needed extra money for the current fiscal year because revenue from filing fees have fallen short of projections.

Kansas courts were already closed one day last month after inaction on the budget failed to provide the money the courts needed to stay open.

The decision to close the courts resulted from a legislative tussle over the state budget only hours before lawmakers were to adjourn for their annual spring break in April.

Nuss had warned lawmakers in February that the courts needed the money or they would be closed and employees furloughed for five days.