Congress Should Pass, and State Legislature Should Ratify, Balanced Budget Amendment

September 6, 2011

In July, 64 members of the Oklahoma Legislature declared their support for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In my opinion, this indicates the people of Oklahoman want to halt deficit spending in Washington, D.C. and want the federal government to live within the taxpayers’ means.

Among the supporters are Speaker of the House Kris Steele, Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Hickman, Majority Floor Leader Dan Sullivan, and House Rules Committee Chairman Gary Banz.

“If the Balanced Budget Amendment is approved by Congress, we are committed to supporting and working for ratification in Oklahoma,” the letter states. “We are confident that if given the opportunity, Oklahoma will be one of the first states to ratify the Balanced Budget Amendment.”

I commend the proactive stance of the Oklahoma legislators who signed the letter, and hope Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation will support inclusion of a very important feature in the proposed amendment: a constitutional reserve fund requirement.

Including a constitutional reserve fund requirement in a balanced budget amendment would prevent Congress from immediately spending every penny collected, thus allowing significant mitigation of any downturns in revenue. A number of the states, including Oklahoma, successfully utilize a constitutional reserve fund; there is no good reason that Congress should not do the same.

If Congress does pass a legitimate balanced budget amendment, I would encourage the Oklahoma Legislature promptly to ratify it.

OCPA executive vice president Joel Kintsel (J.D., University of Oklahoma) is a former Clerk of the House, Chief of Operations, and Parliamentarian for the Oklahoma House of Representatives.