Politics

State House Approves Federal Balanced Budget Amendment

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The Texas State Capitol building. (credit: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images)

The Texas State Capitol building. (credit: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images)

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/KRLD) – A state Senate committee has approved one of Governor Rick Perry’s emergency items. The resolution calls on Congress to pass a federal balanced budget constitutional amendment.

Governor Rick Perry had designated the issue an “emergency”, which allowed the resolution to be fast-tracked through the GOP-controlled Senate and House.

With the Senate State Affairs Committee approving the measure, in a 6-2 vote, the full state Senate could vote on the resolution as early as next week.

Brownsville Democratic Senator Eddie Lucio has doubts a resolution would “balance the books”. “It’s hard to imagine the kind of cuts [that] would be needed to balance the budget,” he said. Lucio believes requirements of a balanced federal budget would result in severe spending cuts negatively affecting a large portion of the Texas population.

College Station Republican Steve Ogden says in reality what the balanced budget amendment would do is make it harder to deficit spend. If the funds aren’t available for a particular area, a super majority of Congress would just be needed to approve the spending, and a balanced budget wouldn’t necessarily be required.

Some state lawmakers are concerned the resolution calls for a Constitutional Convention if Congress fails to act. They say that could open up the entire constitution for a rewrite. Ogden says that’s not the intent of the resolution, “We’ve tried to limit the scope to one subject as best we can. But, there’s no guarantee.”

In order to become a constitutional amendment, the proposal must receive a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and then be ratified by the legislatures of three-quarters of the U.S. states.

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