Judicial branch budget
Funding for Kansas courts accounts for less than 1% of all funds in the state budget.
The judicial branch budget for fiscal year 2024, which began July 1, 2023, is about $195.2 million. Of that amount, around $182.9 million is from the state general fund.
The balance of the judicial branch budget—about $12.3 million—comes from grants, pass-through funding, and fees. Beginning in fiscal year 2023, all fees, fines, and forfeitures paid to courts are deposited into the state general fund or other state and local expenditure-specific funds as spelled out in statute. These deposits to the state general fund also include fees that fund core judiciary operations.
Each Kansas county pays the operating expenses for the district court in its county. This includes costs to maintain court facilities and to provide necessary office supplies and equipment.
With most district court building and operating expenses paid by counties, the base judicial branch budget is used primarily to pay salaries for 290 judges and justices and about 1,700 employees. For fiscal year 2024, about 92% of our budget request is to fund salaries and wages.
Objective analysis of staffing needs
The judicial branch analyzes court staffing to ensure it’s appropriate for the number of cases courts process.
Initially we measured judge and court clerk office staffing compared to caseloads for individual courts. Then, we took a comprehensive look at the level of all staffing needed for Kansas courts to provide efficient, effective, and timely service using a zero-based approach backed by as much empirical justification as possible.
Data from these analyses allow the Supreme Court to make objective decisions regarding staffing needs for the judicial branch.
Visit Effective Workforce Management for our staffing and workload studies.
The 2023 Legislature appropriated funding for a 5% salary increase for all non-judge judicial branch employee as of July 1, 2023. The judiciary thanks the Kansas Legislature for its work to strengthen the court system by making these appropriations. To maintain a well-functioning judiciary, we must continue to offer employee salaries that are competitive in the job market. To account for the continuing impact of inflation, we asked for a cost-of-living adjustment in our fiscal year 2025 budget request.
In fiscal year 2018, Kansas judges received their first salary increase of any kind in nine fiscal years. It was a 2.5% increase. Without increases during those nine years, Kansas judge salaries fell far behind the market in pay. Since fiscal year 2018, Kansas judges received pay increases to begin to address this gap. As of July 1, 2023, Kansas judges ranked 48 out of 50 states in actual salaries according to a report from the National Center for State Courts.
The judicial branch budget request for FY 2025 includes funding needed to implement the new judicial salary formula codified after the Legislature passed 2023 House Sub. for SB 229. This formula uses district judge salaries as its lodestar. Beginning January 1, 2025, district judges will earn 75% of the annual salary of a U.S. district judge. Salaries for the remaining classes of Kansas judges are calculated from that resulting district judge figure.
Judges have profound responsibilities. Among the weightiest are when they are called to impose death and other significant criminal sentences that deprive others of life and liberty. They also resolve child custody disputes that affect fundamental parental rights. And they conduct many other criminal and civil proceedings that result in life-altering judgements. Kansans want highly qualified individuals to make the decisions asked of judges.
The fiscal year 2025 budget request also includes additional funding and positions for administrative support staff, including staff who help with IT security, financial oversight, and other services that are essential to efficient operations of courthouses across the state.
Providing adequate funding for the judicial branch ensures that courts remain available to all Kansans and that courts are able to deliver timely justice to the people and businesses of Kansas.