Kansas Chief Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss told the Topeka Capital Journal’s editorial board Thursday that state funding of judicial branch salaries had fallen unacceptably below average salaries of peers in neighboring states.
As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, Nuss said a request to the 2017 Legislature would add $20 million to the judicial branch’s base budget during the next two fiscal years to upgrade salaries of judges and court employees – a proposal he said would eventually bring Kansas wages up to the average of Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Lawton said if adjusted for the cost of living, the state would rank 45th for judges’ salaries.
The request championed by Nuss follows a 2016 election cycle in which Gov. Sam Brownback and conservative special interest groups sought to convince Kansas voters to oust a slate of Supreme Court and Kansas Court of Appeals members viewed as liberal on the death penalty, school finance and abortion. All appellate court judges and justices on statewide ballots were retained by voters.