Georgia Balanced Budget Amendment Gains National Attention


Nationally syndicated George Will’s recent column (published in the Washington Post and more than 400 other newspapers) illuminated the growing interest in the Compact for a Balanced Budget Amendment. Georgia legislators, led by Georgia State Representatives Paulette Rakestraw (R, HD-19) and Andy Welch (R, HD-110), drafted the amendment in conjunction with the Goldwater Institute. Rep. Rakestraw was the official sponsor of the bill, which originated in the Georgia House as HB794 and subsequently passed the Georgia Senate by a vote of 30-25 on Wednesday, March 19. When Georgia Governor Nathan deal signed the bill into law on April 12, 2014, Georgia became the first state to enact the compact.

In his article, Will noted that the innovative idea “is gaining traction in Alaska, Arizona, and Georgia, and its advocates may bring it to at least 35 other state legislatures.” Importantly, once the Compact is passed in just two states, it will trigger the organization of a governmental body to coordinate Compact efforts throughout the country, creating a persistent institution with one objective: to pass a federal balanced budget amendment within seven years.

“I am thrilled to see Georgia take the lead to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington,” said Rep. Rakestraw, the lead sponsor of the legislation. “Our Georgia lawmakers are saying, ‘Enough is enough’ to the burgeoning $18 trillion federal debt.” Added Rep. Andy Welch, “We are excited that the Governor has joined us in leading the way forward with the Compact. This tightly drawn amendment will enable our citizens, at last, to exercise control over the runaway spending of federal lawmakers and bureaucrats.”

The Compact for a Balanced Budget uses an agreement among the states called an “interstate compact” to invoke Article V of the United States Constitution in order to advance a federal balanced budget amendment. It transforms the otherwise cumbersome state-initiated amendment process under Article V into a “turn-key” operation. The process empowers the states to agree in advance to all elements of the amendment process that states control under Article V in a single enactment that can be passed in a single session. Thirty-eight states would need to pass the Compact in order to approve the proposed balanced budget amendment, which could in turn be approved by a simple-majority congressional resolution.

“I am proud that Georgia is leading the way in helping to restore fiscal responsibility to our nation,” said co-sponsor Sen. Hunter Hill (R, SD-6) echoing the sentiments of Reps. Rakestraw and Welch. “The recognition of the importance of this effort by a leading conservative philosopher like George Will serves as a very positive validation.”

Representative Paulette Rakestraw represents the citizens of District 19, which includes portions of Paulding County. She was elected into the House of Representatives in 2010, and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of Science and Technology. She also serves on the Economic Development & Tourism, Juvenile Justice, Small Business Development, and Special Rules committees.