Snyder breathes new life into balanced budget amendment efforts

Jan 23, 2014

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It took a push from Gov. Rick Snyder, but efforts to put Michigan on record as supporting a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution are moving again at the state Capitol.

Gov. Snyder supported the idea last week in his State of the State address. Today, a state House committee held its first hearing on two resolutions calling on Congress to convene a convention of the states to draft a balanced budget amendment. 

“Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution grants states the right to provide this leadership,” said state Sen. Mike Green, R-Maryville, the sponsor of one of the measures. “With the gridlock and the financial crisis Washington is in right now and continually seeming to stay in, there is no more appropriate time for us to act than right now.”

If the Legislature adopts one or both of the resolutions, Michigan would be the 21st state to call for a convention. It would take 34 states to actually convene a convention to draft an amendment and submit it to the states for ratification.

“We are advancing nationally and there is a very real possibility we will be successful in this,” said William Fruth of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, a national group. He says similar efforts are underway in “16 or 17” other states.

Last year, Ohio became the most recent to join the list of states to call for a balanced budget amendment convention.

But many Democrats remain opposed to the amendment.

“Personally, I would rather see our country get to a balanced budget like we did in the '90s through growth and investment and smart budget choices rather than use a gimmick like this,” said state Representative Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor. He said the mandate of an amendment would be too restrictive. 

Irwin said he thinks Republicans are anxious to move on the amendment while the GOP still controls most state legislatures across the nation.

Michigan, like most other states, is required by its constitution to balance its budget.