Yesterday the Senate Government Operations Committee considered SJR V, a joint resolution that would petition the Congress of the United States to call a convention of the states for the limited purpose of proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring a balanced budget, in the absence of a national emergency. The League opposed this joint resolution.
Specifically, the proposed constitutional amendment would provide that, “in the absence of a national emergency the total of all federal appropriations made by the congress for any fiscal year may not exceed the total of all estimated federal revenues for that fiscal year, together with any related and appropriate fiscal restraints”.
Thirty two states have passed similar resolutions, and thirty four are required to call the convention. The League is concerned about the impact the stringent spending requirements the resolution would have. The federal government would be forced to choose the programs to cut, and this could include cutting federal funding that helps states pay for schools, roads, water treatment, equipment for police officers, and a range of other state and local priorities. It is very likely that Congress would choose to cut funding for state programs more deeply than they cut funding for federal priorities, under the reasoning that states can raise their own revenue to make up the difference.
Samantha Harkins is Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.