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Several Idaho Senate resolutions call for attention on the national debt

Every U.S. state except for Vermont has a requirement to pass a balanced budget. This important fiscal requirement is essential to maintaining fiscal health and a strong economic outlook. Unfortunately, there is no requirement for Congress to adopt a balanced budget. As a result, it is no surprise that the nation’s fiscal outlook is teetering on the brink.

According to the Congressional Budget Office:

“Federal debt held by the public increases each year in CBO’s projections, swelling to an all-time record of 116 percent of GDP in 2034. In the two decades that follow, growing deficits cause debt to soar to 172 percent of GDP by 2054.

With Congress unwilling to take the necessary steps to budget responsibly, several states are now exercising their rights under the U.S. Constitution to initiate a process to put forward constitutional amendments to require federal fiscal discipline. In fact, several Senate Concurrent Resolutions have been recently proposed in Idaho:

  • SCR 112: “This concurrent resolution is an application to Congress, under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States, calling for a convention of the states, the purpose of which is to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States that would be limited to: (1) imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government; (2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and (3) limiting the terms in office for its officials and for members of Congress. Currently, identical applications have been sent to Congress by other state legislatures.”

  • SCR 115: “This Concurrent Resolution recognizes the growing national debt as a legitimate threat to the United States of America and calls upon the United States Congress to send to the states for ratification, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the absence of such action, after a date certain, the Idaho Legislature files application for an Article V Convention for the sole purpose of proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the States for Ratification.”

Lawmakers in Wyoming have also introduced resolutions this year calling for a convention of the states (See HJ0006 and SJ0004).

Some have expressed concern that a convention of the states could lead to a runaway process that drastically alters the current U.S. Constitution. One important thing to keep in mind about this fear, any amendments advanced by this process would still have to be ratified by 3/4 of the states. It is doubtful that anything without broad public support would be enacted by 38 states with this safeguard.

It is clear that Congress is not capable of enacting the reforms needed to change the course of runaway federal spending. That duty now falls on the states to secure the nation’s economic outlook for our continued prosperity.

Governor Little also discussed this issue in his 2024 State of the State address:

“I am signing on as a member of the Governors Debt Council for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The runaway freight train of federal spending has got to stop. It's not right. It's not what the founders envisioned for our great country. The U.S. Constitution gives the states the power to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment, and in the coming weeks I will announce new steps we’ll take to force Congress to live within the people's means.”

Addressing different topics, the Idaho Senate also introduced two other interesting concurrent resolutions:

  • SCR 114: “This Concurrent Resolution recognizes that serving in Congress should be a public service, not a career, and joins Idaho's voices to the other states calling for an Article V Convention for the sole purpose of drafting a Congressional Term Limits Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

  • SCR 116: “This Concurrent Resolution works to ensure that the Students of Idaho are taught the importance of the history of Western Civilization, the founding principles of our unique form of government, and responsible participation in civic life, within applicable Social Studies, Civics, Government, U.S. History, and Western Civilization courses. Students’ lack of understanding in regard to civic concepts threatens the integrity of our Republic. Our nation must acknowledge its history in order to engage with the present.”

Expect to see these proposals receive action on the Senate floor soon.

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