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The greatest assets of the judicial branch of government are the people who work for all Kansans in the pursuit of justice — the judges, their staff members and the employees of the courts.

However, Kansans may not realize that their state’s courts have not been adequately funded for years. Even before the pandemic, the Kansas judicial system was lagging far behind other states in the overall financial support of its courts.

This lack of financial support has a direct and negative impact on the lives of Kansans who appear before our courts, who work in our justice system or who have loved ones relying on the Kansas courts. For some, their lives and livelihoods hang in the balance.

Like any employer, the state of Kansas must provide competitive and comparable wages to retain and recruit all its employees. Judicial employee pay has stagnated. According to a July 2020 National Center for State Courts survey, salaries for our district court judges ranks 48th out of all 50 states, and are not comparable to any of our neighboring states. In fact, some areas of Kansas are seeing fewer judicial applicants for openings and have lost good candidates for judgeships, as well as support staff, to our neighboring states.

Employee salaries are also uncompetitive. Judicial branch employee salaries range from 2.7% to 18.9% below market average. And currently, the court system is severely understaffed. To save money from lost filing fee revenue because of the pandemic, the courts have had to leave many positions vacant.

This opinion piece was written for The Kansas City Star and continues on their website, Read the full article here >