Federalism

A Balanced Budget Amendment – A 2017 Recap of the Road to 34

The 2017 legislative session was filled with action for the balanced budget amendment (BBA) campaign. Going into January, BBA had 28 of the 34 state Article V applications needed to compel Congress to call an amendments convention suggesting that the likelihood of reaching 30 to 32 applications was quite high. This optimism seemed to be confirmed early on with applications passed in Wyoming and Arizona. Unfortunately, that number dropped back to 28 with rescissions in Maryland and New Mexico.

The next state to see action was Idaho where the BBA application passed out of the Senate State Affairs committee but failed on the Senate floor due to vocal opposition on both the Left and Right. Opponents based their rejection of an Article V amendments convention to propose a BBA on the myth of a “runaway convention.” A fiction that has been raised since the early 1960s, the ALEC Article V Handbook, which can be accessed here, dispels much of the misinformation surrounding a convention of states. Of the remaining BBA target states, no action was taken in Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, South Carolina or Washington. The only active application remaining in this legislative session was recently filed in Wisconsin where floor votes are pending in both legislative chambers.

Despite the lack of progress in 2017, the groundwork was laid for passage of BBA applications in a number of target states next year. Plans are being made to strengthen a coalition of pro-balanced budget amendment organizations, which will provide much needed support for the 2018 campaign. The only remaining state where rescission is likely is Nevada. Beyond that, the BBA campaign has nine target states with conservative majorities which might put the 34-state threshold within reach by July 4, 2019. The road to 34 has been bumpy, however restoring the nation to fiscal sustainability is well worth the effort.


In Depth: Federalism

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