BRADENTON, Fla. — Lawmakers in Virginia have not been as successful as other states, such as Georgia, in pursuing a constitutional convention.
A Virginia House resolution calling on Congress to hold the convention, along with a bill providing for the selection and participation of delegates, were voted down Feb. 6, after first passing committees.
Virginia is one of many targeted by the group Citizens for Self-Governance that is pushing for a convention to limit federal government spending and power, according to the group's website. If two-thirds of the states submit applications for a convention, Congress must call one.
"By calling a convention of the states, we can stop the federal spending and debt spree, the power grabs of the federal courts, and other misuses of federal power," the group said. Its sister website, www.conventionofstates.com, said the Georgia Senate became the first to pass an application on Feb. 4. It received a second reading in the House Feb. 6.
Georgia's resolution complains that "the federal government has created a crushing national debt through improper and imprudent spending" and imposed unfunded federal mandates on states. It calls for a convention of states to propose constitutional amendments placing "fiscal restraints" on the federal government, limiting federal powers, and placing terms limits on members of Congress.
Calling a convention for the first time in 227 years to require that Congress to enact a balanced budget is misguided and creates unintended consequences "that could critically undermine Georgia's economy, public services, and civil liberties," according to Wesley Tharpe, a policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.
"Georgia receives millions in federal dollars each year to help fund its schools, roads, hospitals, and other services," he said. "A balanced budget amendment would force Congress to make deep cuts to all aspects of government, but federal support for the states would be especially vulnerable."
Balancing the federal budget would require Congress to spend only those funds it collects each year.
"Georgia lawmakers routinely issue debt instruments that allow them to make long-term investments in the future, such as bonds for deepening the Savannah port or constructing new school facilities," he said, adding that it makes sense to take on reasonable debt to buy things that can't be purchased in a single year."
Other states considering calling for a convention, or that have in the past, include Utah, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.