GOP lawmakers finish plan for balanced budget convention

Republican lawmakers from 19 states completed a plan Friday that provides an outline on how to run a constitutional convention that would propose a federal balanced budget amendment.

The four-day planning session at the Arizona state Capitol involved 71 delegates adopting rules, procedures and other technical details of how such a convention would be run. No Democrats attended.

Attendees called the end product a historic effort that sets the stage for a convention of states to propose changes to the Constitution. They call Washington dysfunctional and a convention the only way to force the federal government to address the nation’s $20 trillion deficit.

Utah state Sen. Ken Ivory said the nation has deep structural issues, and the only way to fix them is to use the Constitution’s own power to push changes through amendments proposed by states at a convention.

“We have a system in disrepair that operates to produce trillion-dollar deficits, to produce mountains of regulations and federal criminalization,” Ivory said. “And until we restore that balance and that division in power, we’re going to continue to see results that a system in disrepair produces.”

A convention is a longshot. One has never successfully been used to propose an amendment, and all 27 amendments that have been adopted were proposed by Congress. But a balanced budget amendment is a core goal of conservative Republicans that have gained growing control of state Legislatures in recent years.

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