Posted on February 04, 2014 | Type: Press Release
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Contact: Charles Siler




Lawmakers in several states working this week to pass a constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment through a compact


It's no secret that politicians in Washington have a spending addiction--to the tune of roughly $54,000 in federal debt per every newborn baby (that's more than the median household income!). With federal spending burgeoning, lawmakers in at least four states are moving quickly during state legislative sessions to rein in the beltway largess.

Legislators in Arizona and Georgia Tuesday will consider the Compact for a Balanced Budget, a one-stop-shop bill that would create a mechanism for the states to convene for the limited purpose of adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Members of Georgia's State House of Representatives cleared an identical bill out of a subcommittee last week. Lawmakers in Alaska and Arkansas continue to work in tandem to pass harmonious legislation in their states, with one or more committee hearings scheduled next week. Others are poised to follow in as many as three other states..

The amendment designed by the Goldwater Institute, Compact for America, Inc. and experts around the country would define a balanced budget in common sense terms: spending must be limited to revenues with the sole exception of borrowing under a constitutionally-imposed debt limit. That debt limit would not be in the hands of Washington alone; it could be increased, but only with the approval of a majority of state legislatures. The amendment avoids a game of chicken over debt limit increases by requiring spending impoundments when borrowing reaches 98 percent of the debt limit. Finally, the amendment would quell fears of across-the-board tax increases by requiring any new income or sales tax to secure two-thirds approval of both houses of Congress, excepting measures that close loopholes or completely replace the income tax with an end-user sales tax.. 

Article V of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the states to originate amendments to the Constitution. Despite widespread interest in the Article V constitutional convention process in recent years, proponents have had trouble gaining steam for the effort, amidst fears that an Article V call could trigger a runaway convention.

According to Goldwater Institute constitutional policy expert Nick Dranias, this concern is addressed through the Compact for a Balanced Budget. Rather than a typical Article V effort which requires over a hundred pieces of legislation over five or more legislative sessions, the Compact for a Balanced Budget revolutionizes the legislative process by embedding all the necessary steps into one bill in each state from start to finish.

“This Compact enables us to attack the federal deficit with a laser focus,” said Dranias. “We’ve designed a potent bill packed full of everything needed to get the job done and keep the resulting convention on track to get the amendment passed.”

If the Compact is passed in just two states, it will organize a governmental body to coordinate Compact efforts throughout the country, creating a persistent institution that will get the job done.

According to Dranias, this is exactly what the Founders envisioned.

"While this Compact is revolutionary in design, the idea of the states agreeing to work together to reform the federal government is not," said Dranias. "The Founders promised the States and the People that they could originate amendments to correct defects in the Constitution."


 To schedule an interview please contact Charles Siler with the Goldwater Institute at (202) 487-8652 or The Goldwater Institute has an in-house VideoLink studio for rapid cable hook-up if needed.

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