WICHITA, Kan. — After signing off on 19 new laws Thursday, Governor Sam Brownback is getting some heat from the Supreme Court of Kansas for signing a judicial budget that ties funding to policy changes.
House bill 2338 is described by law makers as a compromise to get a court budget for the next 16 months and avoid furloughs, but the Kansas supreme court says this is a poor trade and are concerned about what will happen to the administration of justice in Kansas.
Since its creation, the high court has strongly opposed the bill and now that it has been signed by the governor, they believe the system is now in trouble. However, not everyone agrees with the Supreme Court.
Representative Mark Kahrs says he’s glad the Governor signed the bill. He say it does two primary things: it adds $8 million in estimated revenue to judicial branches which allows the system to avoid any furloughs or layoffs. The bill also allows judges of their own districts to select their own chief judge, instead of the Kansas Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court says “The bill weakens the centralized authority of the Kansas unified court system in exchange for money to pay employees and keep courts open. And the money it provides still may fall short of even doing that.”
“We don’t agree with that analysis, we don’t see any weakening with the unified court system,” said Kahrs.” All this is allowing are the judges of the local districts to elect their own chief judge. We elect their judges in the 18th district here in Sedgwick County, it makes sense they elect their own leader and we will also allow them to manage their own budget. Who knows better then themselves to manage their own budget?”
Kahrs who is also an attorney says the bill also provides unification through funding for electronic case management…better known as e-filing.
“Within two to three years we’ll have electronic filing across the state of Kansas that is very important for the future of our judicial branch, the judicial system it’s important for the rural county districts as well to keep them engaged and unified, “ said Kahrs.
Governor Brownback’s office has yet to responded to the courts statement.