Georgia’s senate on Wednesday called for a constitutional convention of the states in order to pass a balanced budget amendment.
The Peach State’s senators voted 30 to 25 to pass the Compact for a Balanced Budget Amendment. If Governor Nathan Deal signs the amendment, Georgia will take the lead in proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution by adding a balanced budget requirement.
Article V of the Constitution provides states with the right to make amendments to the U.S. Constitution by means of a constitutional convention. For a constitutional convention to be called, at least two-thirds, or 34, of the states must petition on the same subject. Twenty states have already filed petitions on the subject of a balanced budget amendment.
One other state would be required to adopt the Compact to trigger the creation of a governmental body whose main objective would be to pass a federal balanced budget amendment within seven years. The organization would coordinate efforts throughout the nation on the Compact, using an agreement among the states called an "interstate compact" to invoke Article V of the Constitution to advance the amendment.
Previous attempts at states to get federal balanced budget amendments have been blocked by those who feared the possibility of a runaway convention. This Compact would not allow any other changes to the Constitution, and would require an up or down vote on the balanced budget amendment.
This week the Convention of the States was on the agenda in two Florida Select Committees. The Arizona House passed the measure last week and today the Arizona Senate will consider it. The same amendment in Alaska is moving through the House.
According to the Goldwater Institute, which led the drafting of the proposed amendment, other states are expected to take up the reform this year.
"The innovative reform is the sheet music that orchestrates a symphony of state motions and federal responses, folding hundreds of legislative steps into one simple, laser-focused piece of legislation," said Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute Constitutional Policy Director, in a prepared statement.
Georgia lawmakers expressed optimism that the governor will sign the amendment and said they are committed to helping save the country from its current reckless financial path.
Rep. Paulette Braddock (R-HD19), the lead sponsor of the legislation, said she met with Deal and "he seemed very interested in this approach." She expressed optimism about the amendment’s future and its impact on the country’s fiscal future.
"I’m very pleased and I think we can save our nation from financial ruin and get other states on board," Braddock said. She indicated getting spending restrictions would be a first priority, then tax reductions would follow suit.
"All the states, except one, have to balance their budget. It’s time for Washington to do the same," Braddock said. "It’s a pretty scary situation if the spending continues."
Rep. Andy Welch (R, D-110) said his yes vote on the amendment "reflects the major sentiment of folks in my district and the overwhelming majority of folks in Georgia—that Congress has to take ownership of the debt it created in the country."
Welch said it is "imperative for states to call a convention to restrain Congress’ spending habits." He said the compact is a "mechanism" to "enact a balanced budget to the Federal Constitution."
"We have to turn the ship around and start paying down the debt. I’m concerned about the long-term financial stability of our nation," Welch said. He referred to Greece, saying that country has "forfeited a great degree of sovereignty to repay its creditors."