A dispute over $25 million in the state's proposed $14.3 billion budget for fiscal 2013 will close state courts for five days, Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said last week.
Nuss said 1,500 court employees will be furloughed and the courts closed for five Fridays due to the Legislature's failure to agree on a bill that included a $1.4 million supplemental appropriation for the court system.
An unexpected decline in court filing revenues led to the shortfall in the current fiscal year, which would have been resolved in compromise budget bill.
However, lawmakers could not agree on the source for a $24.7 million allocation to public schools next year and the budget deal fell apart.
Lawmakers will return to Topeka April 25 to develop the omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2013.
The court shutdown does not affect judges. The Kansas constitution bans a reduction in judges' salaries unless pay is similarly cut for all state officers.
Nuss said he had no option other than the five-day furloughs.
"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," Nuss said.
House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, criticized the move. He said the courts have access to $8 million of unencumbered funds that could be borrowed temporarily.
"The court's decision to furlough, due to budget restraints, is, according to our budget staff, unnecessary," O'Neal said.
Nuss said the proposed borrowing was not an option because he cannot be sure the court system would be reimbursed by the Legislature.
House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said the shutdown was inevitable after House leaders balked at the compromise budget plan.
"Responsibility for these consequences rests solely on the shoulders of the House Republican leadership that decided to use the budget process to create political leverage," Davis said.
"There's just no reason for this to occur," he said.
Supplemental appropriations for the final months of fiscal 2012 in the failed 2013 budget bill also included $4.2 million for disaster relief and $4 million for nursing homes.