"As I explained on April 4 when the furloughs were first announced, the Supreme Court simply had no choice but to order a reduction in court operations because we don't have enough money for the courts to stay open through the end of our current fiscal year," Nuss continued.
"The failure of the legislature in late March to approve our supplemental appropriation for reasons unrelated to the Court's budget left us with the unacceptable prospect of concentrating employee furloughs within a shorter number of pay periods if the appropriation failed for some reason after the legislature returned. We had no assurance at that time that our budget would not fall victim to the same impasses that created the legislature's inaction in March.”
"But things changed last Friday when we received the assurances that give us enough confidence to change the furlough schedule," Nuss explained. "Most telling to me was the message repeated by Rep. Marc Rhoades. He is not only chair of the House appropriations committee, but also chair of the House's budget conference committee. His comments, plus those of his fellow appropriations committee members, that the legislature will fund the courts were significant to the Supreme Court."
Chief Justice Nuss made it clear this postponement is not without problems. Changing furlough dates means that any court business that may have been originally scheduled for May 24 and June 7 in 105 counties will now have to be rescheduled. This affects not just court personnel and judges but also witnesses, court litigants, their attorneys, and Kansans called for jury duty.
“Changing the direction of the court system is not like turning a bass boat, while fishing on a Kansas lake," Nuss said. "It is more like trying to turn an aircraft carrier underway at sea.” Also, reopening the originally scheduled court closures on April 27 and May 11 may not allow previously canceled hearings to be held then. But reopening does allow the offices of the clerks of the courts to be available to the public. Finally, postponement risks employees losing two furlough days per pay period, which reduces employees’ paychecks by about 20 percent, if the supplemental appropriation fails to be passed.
The Chief Justice concluded by repeating the message from his April 4 news conference. “The Supreme Court is not interested in pointing fingers. We are interested in trying to help fix this mess. Today’s decision is our effort to help fix it.”