Policy Tip Sheet: Wisconsin Balanced Budget Amendment

Published October 8, 2015


America is facing a crisis on multiple fronts: $18 trillion national debt, less health care freedom, and crippling federal regulations. The inability of members of Congress to solve this crisis has stifled economic growth in our country and threatens basic American liberties. The American people have lost faith in the ability of Congress to restore order. A May 2015 poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times finds that only 12 percent approve of the job performance of Congress.

Solution: Balanced Budget Amendment

■    Wisconsin would join 27 other states calling for the national government to enact a balanced budget amendment. North Dakota was the most recent state to approve a resolution in 2015.
■    The legislation is categorized as a single-subject balanced budget amendment application.
■    Only one subject is allowed for debate during an Article V convention, thereby reducing the risk of a “runaway convention.”
■    Wisconsin and 49 other state governments require a balanced budget amendment. This finally makes the national government abide by the same requirements as the states.
■    There is no sunset clause in the legislation but a future legislature can stop the measure if they pass a successive resolution calling to rescind the application.

Difference Between Compact for America, Convention of States, and Wisconsin’s proposal

■    Compact for America contains both an application calling for an Article V convention to enact a balanced budget amendment and a interstate compact agreement to define the procedures. This requires legislation approved by the states in addition to separate federal legislation enacting the interstate compact.
■    Convention of the States involves multiple subjects other than a balanced budget amendment. This includes adopting term limits for Members of Congress and limits on federal regulations.
■    The proposal in Wisconsin is unlike both of these since it is a single issue balanced budget amendment.

Appointment of Delegates to an Article V Convention

■    A total of 5 delegates representing the State of Wisconsin would have to be appointed by the following:
    •    2 members of the Wisconsin House of Representatives by the Speaker of the House.
    •    2 members of the Wisconsin Senate by the President of the Senate.
    •    1 member of the Wisconsin House or Senate by the Governor.

■    No delegate appointed can vote for an unauthorized convention. This is designed to prevent behavior leading to a “runaway” convention.
■    Any delegate voting for an unauthorized amendment would be immediately removed upon approval from the majority of other delegates.