Politics & Government

Furloughed court workers to receive money from state

TOPEKA — Kansas court workers who are being forced to take four unpaid days off in April and May will get some financial help from the state's unemployment insurance trust fund, the state Department of Labor said.

In mid-March, the state Supreme Court announced that 1,490 full-time court employees would be furloughed for four Fridays in April and May. That has shut down county district courts and appellate courts, saving the state about $220,000 each Friday.

The Labor Department has not calculated how much in unemployment benefits the workers will be paid, department spokeswoman Kathy Toelkes said this week.

The unemployment insurance trust fund, which is financed by payments from employers, not the state's general fund, is depleted and Kansas is borrowing money from the federal government to replenish it, Toelkes said.

The first furlough was on Friday, and the remaining furloughs are scheduled for this Friday, April 23 and May 7. The furloughs do not apply to judges, whose pay was cut 5 percent.

The payments are to help defray the financial impact of the furloughs, said Ron Keefover, a spokesman for the state Supreme Court.

"We think every little bit will help," he said.

Based on a formula used to calculate unemployment benefits for the furloughed workers, a clerk who usually earns $13 an hour would receive $57.46 for each Friday. A court services officer earning $20 an hour would receive $88.40 for each day, but that would be reduced $1.20 because the benefit cap is $87.20 a day.

Keefover said the Labor Department devised the program for the furloughed court workers.

The workers can receive their money either on a debit card or direct-deposit to a bank account. Court workers are automatically signed up for the payments.

Don Troth, Shawnee County District Court administrator, said court workers could expect to receive the payments in late April.