The Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force is spearheading the Article V convention movement. So far, 27 states have passed balanced budget amendment (BBA) resolutions, including Arizona and Wyoming earlier this year. Only seven more states must pass matching resolutions to meet the 34-state threshold, requiring Congress to call for a convention to propose and draft a BBA.
In September, the Arizona Planning Convention will take place in the State Capitol complex in Phoenix, where delegates from across the country will plan the procedures, rules, and logistics of a prospective BBA Article V convention.
Earlier this week, The Heartland Institute released a new Policy Brief authored by former law professor and leading constitutional scholar Robert Natelson. In this Policy Brief, titled “A Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment,” Natelson argues adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the most appropriate course of action to rein in an indulgent and bloated federal government.
However, Natelson says drafting such an amendment is not as easy as it sounds. He writes:
One cannot merely copy balanced budget requirements from state constitutions because of the complexity of the federal financial system and because deficit financing is so ingrained in Washington, DC that conventional language likely would be evaded. Moreover, the amendment must be politically salable and consistent with the overall constitutional design. When measured against such criteria, existing drafts suffer from significant, and sometimes crippling, defects.
His Policy Brief opens with a brief discussion of the national government’s debt crisis. Noting “the same dysfunctions that impede Congress from balancing the federal budget also prevent it from proposing a BBA,” Natelson suggests an Article V convention of the states is the most promising vehicle for proposing a BBA.
Natelson says many challenges—political, practical, semantic—face those who would be tasked with authoring a constitutional amendment. He describes several criteria an amendment must meet to be successful and explains how his draft BBA meets those criteria. He concludes:
This draft balanced budget amendment is designed to renew and improve discussion, not to end it. This draft assists the process of developing an acceptable BBA by identifying criteria for drafting and suggesting ways to meet those criteria.
In a recent Research & Commentary, Government Relations Manager Lindsey Stroud and Policy Analyst Tim Benson examined a bill in Texas that considered adoption of the Compact for a Balanced Budget, an interstate agreement by at least three-fourths of the states that would trigger an Article V convention.
Natelson and other members of the Heartland team are available to testify on constitutional reform and other topics. Please contact Government Relations Coordinator Arianna Wilkerson at [email protected] to make the arrangements.
Budget & Tax
Heartland Daily Podcast: Nan Swift at the National Taxpayers Union: The Zombie Online Sales Tax Bill
In this episode of the weekly Budget & Tax News podcast, Managing Editor and Research Fellow Jesse Hathaway is joined by National Taxpayers Union Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift to talk about the latest reincarnation of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), a bill allowing states to tax businesses—and ultimately, consumers—outside of their borders. Read more
Research & Commentary: Kentucky Pursues Work Requirements for Medicaid
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines a proposed Medicaid waiver in Kentucky that would allow the state to include work requirements in its Medicaid program. “State lawmakers currently waiting for the federal government to approve health care reforms should instead apply for waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to allow for more control over Medicaid programs. Implementing Medicaid work requirements would be a good first step for Medicaid-expansion and non-expansion states toward helping to limit the rising costs of Medicaid,” wrote Glans. Read more
Research & Commentary: Louisiana Voucher Students Continue to Improve
In this Research & Commentary, Tim Benson considers a new study examining the Louisiana Scholarship Program and how it has affected student achievement after three years. “Based on what we know about the educational benefits of school choice programs in general and the cost-saving, integrationist benefits of LSP, it is not out of bounds to say LSP deserves a return to full funding from Louisiana legislators in the 2018 legislative session,” wrote Benson. Read more
Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Study Finds Fracking Has Limited Impact on Earthquakes
In this Research & Commentary, Tim Benson examines a new study released in June 2017 by researchers at the University of Alberta and published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. The study shows hydraulic fracturing has had a limited impact on the number of earthquakes throughout the United States and Canada. “Flatly, concerns about induced seismicity are overblown and do not provide justification for banning fracking or over-regulating it out of existence,” wrote Benson. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Twelve-Year-Old Ice Cream Entrepreneur Buried in Regulations
Twelve-year-old Nic Ruffi wanted to create a business selling ice cream on his bike this summer. His parents looked into the regulations before he began and discovered that he would have to get his bike inspected by the city health department and get a permit, which requires the applicant to be 18-years-old, pay a permit fee, and take out an insurance policy. Nic’s parents talked with city council members, the National Federation of Independent Business–Wisconsin, and state legislators to see what they could do. Find out what happened next in this article from the MacIver Institute. Read more