NFIB backs group that seeks state support for a convention.
Balance the budget or run afoul of the Constitution.
That’s the message NFIB, in concert with the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, a nonprofit, non-partisan coalition of activists and state lawmakers, wants to send to Washington, D.C.
NFIB is spearheading a nationwide campaign to persuade at least 34 state legislatures to pass resolutions calling for a constitutional convention on the balanced budget issue.
If Congress receives 34 resolutions, it must hold the convention, where state delegates would vote on the proposed amendment, which includes an exemption for balancing the budget during national emergencies. Once state delegates approve the amendment, at least 38 states would have to ratify the change.
Florida is among the 24 states that have passed resolutions calling for a federal balanced budget amendment.
It’s a long road, but one small business owners should want to see traveled, says Steve Woods, NFIB’s senior vice president for state operations.
“Small business owners have to make tough decisions every day to balance their business budget and their family budget,” Woods says. “The states manage to find a way to live within their means. [A convention of states] might be just what it takes to make Congress serious about controlling spending.”
The Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, also called Balanced Budget Forever, is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is traveling the nation to talk up the initiative as well (in the video below, taken at a December press conference at the Arizona Capitol, Kasich appears with NFIB/Arizona State Director Farrell Quinlan). NFIB Vice President and NFIB/Ohio Executive Director Roger Geiger has played a leading role in its efforts as well.
Kasich says that his state’s $1.5 billion surplus is largely based on having a balanced budget amendment in place.
Woods says 90 percent of NFIB members support a balanced budget amendment, according to member ballots.
“The federal balanced budget amendment is something our members believe in with their heart and soul … that the federal government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in and leave the burden for future generations,” Woods says. “NFIB is confident that we can get there or at least create enough momentum to push Congress to take action.”
In 2014, NFIB acted as the lead state lobbyist in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan and Ohio, where the bill passed, respectively. So far, the measure has been adopted by 24 state legislatures. The goal, Woods says, is to ensure that 34 states pass balanced budget resolutions, which would trigger the convention of states and clear the way for a possible amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
NFIB/Florida engaged on the issue early in the 2014 Legislative Session, and was the only business group in Florida to publicly fight for the measure. And while it passed 77-44, it faced some opposition in the Florida House, where members voted almost entirely by party line.
“Small business owners are very aware of the financial crisis in Washington, and frankly it’s puzzling why anyone would oppose a plan to balance the federal budget,” said Florida Executive Director Bill Herrle. “But we were proud to represent business owners in the fight and be a part of moving one step closer to getting Washington’s house in order.”
In Tennessee, like Florida, NFIB was the only business group engaged on the balanced budget amendment effort, meeting with legislators and members at grassroots meetings in Knoxville and Nashville, and holding an information forum with state legislators. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, an NFIB member, helped advance the effort by publicly backing the effort at every opportunity. The vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan in favor in both chambers—89-2-3 in the House of Representatives and 28-0-1 in the Senate.
“NFIB was proud to keep the momentum going in Tennessee to advance this effort,” State Director Jim Brown said. “Small business knows federal spending is wildly out of control and that the states have a constitutional mechanism to elevate the issue and potentially offer the necessary fix.”
And in Michigan, the Legislature also passed a resolution that petitions Congress for a balanced budget amendment constitutional convention, says NFIB/Michigan State Director Charles Owens.
“Small business owners are fed up with the federal government’s failure to address the basic budgeting that every citizen and small business must adhere to in their daily activities,” Owens says. “It is time for the states and citizens to use the powers provided by the Founding Fathers in our Constitution to put an end to this irresponsible behavior.”
In Michigan, NFIB was the only business group this year that testified in support of SJR V before the Senate Government Operations Committee and the House Financial Liability Committee.
“We’ve consistently urged Congress to balance the federal budget, but the chance of that happening appears to be extremely remote,” said Owens. “The states created the federal government, and the framers of our Constitution envisioned a time like this when only the states are capable of acting.”
Tell us what you think in the comments section below. For more information, visit balancedbudgetforever.com, or contact your state director. Want to support the measure in your state? Sign the petition.
See how your state compares to other states with and without a Balanced Budget Amendment.