RALEIGH – North Carolina could join four other states in a compact to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution if a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Millis (R-Hampstead) becomes law. Once 38 states have joined the compact, a Constitutional convention would be called to put forward a balanced budget amendment. Millis’s bill will be heard in the House’s Judiciary I committee at 12:30 Wednesday.
Under Article V of the Constitution, Congress must authorize a convention to consider amending the document 34 states call for one. A total of 38 states would be needed to ratify any amendment to the Constitution. Millis says he got involved in order to “preserve and promote liberty” and prosperity.
“As Georgia and a few other states entered into this interstate compact to intervene against Washington’s continued addiction to fund their promises at the ballot-box on the backs of our future generations,” Millis said, “I moved to fully vet the proposal and advocate for its adoption here.”
Although the convention method of amendment has never been successful, it has been close a few times. Only one more state was needed when the U.S. Senate finally relented and passed the resolution that became the amendment to directly elect Senators. Several more have been one or two states shy but have come to nothing. Millis says that a compact will be binding on the state unless a future General Assembly votes to remove North Carolina from it.
“This compact will be handled consistent with all other compacts that our state is currently involved in which does not require approval of future votes of the legislature in subsequent sessions.”
The compact itself provides an expiration date of April 12, 2021 if 38 states have not joined by then. So far Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi and North Dakota have passed a bill to join the compact. The legislation is being pushed by Compact for America, an organization that promotes using bills with identical amendment language and compact terms.
The identical language is one of the ways the compact intends to address some questions constitutional scholars have on the process. Cornell Law School’s annotated Constitution notes that although it has never happened, “if there is an authentic national movement underlying a petitioning by two–thirds of the states there will be a response by Congress.”
The amendment envisioned by the compact would not be a revenues-and-outlays-must-match amendment, but rather would cap the statutory debt limit at 105 percent of the debt limit in force at the time of adoption, an approach that Millis calls “grounded in reality.” The Compact for America organization says this method would make states the “Board of Directors” for Congress on new debt issuance, having to approve any increase in the limit.