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Kansas Chief Justice urges more money for court system

Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss is pressuring lawmakers to add money to the state court system.

In his State of the Judiciary on Wednesday, Nuss said the money appropriated for court operations in 2015 is over $8 million below the base budget request and almost $20 million below what the system needs to operate efficiently -- especially with 90 percent of the budget headed to personnel.

Nuss says court furloughs, which happened two of the past three years, are guaranteed if more money isn't coming.

Lyon County Administrative Judge Merlin Wheeler attended the State of the Judiciary. He says residents would notice a distinct difference if courts had to adjust their operations.

Wheeler anticipates issues with divorce cases, evictions, collections, business disputes and child support matters, especially if court costs are increased.

Local lawmakers have been unavailable for comment, but the reaction to the Nuss speech is mixed. Democrat Jim Ward of Wichita says furloughs would have a huge impact on evictions, divorce proceedings and child support cases. Republican Jeff King of Independence says $6 million to streamline the filing and case management system will help eliminate budget issues.

Nuss didn't specifically address the pending K-12 education funding lawsuit before the Kansas Supreme Court. The lawsuit follows a 2005 decision by the court mandating another $440 million for public education.

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