Nuss: Low wages makes it tough to find and keep qualified people

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Chief Justice Lawton Nuss outlined his concerns about financial compensation within the judicial branch at the State of Kansas Judiciary address on Wednesday.

Nuss said that new technology is providing more efficiency in the branch, but low compensation causes turnovers and less applicants for open positions.

"If we come to a point where we have no qualified applicants for some of these positions in the courts," Nuss said. "Then the judges will wind up having to do them and the judges are not as equipped as the clerks in their training and their know-how to perform those tasks."

According to the Office of Judicial Administration, the judicial branch received less than 1 percent of the state budget in FY 2017 and 32 percent of Kansas state court employees have a starting salary below the 2017 poverty level for a family of four.

"If things continue on this financial path in the judicial branch, there are serious concerns about our ability to administer the quality of justice that Kansans have come to expect and they deserve," Nuss said.

A 2016 salary study showed that 32 percent of Judicial Branch workers have multiple jobs which Nuss said, is a poor reflection on the Kansas Justice Department.