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State Lawmakers Want Constitutional Convention On Balanced Budget Amendment

Majority Republicans in the state legislature have passed a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention to create a federal balanced budget amendment. The measure carries no legal weight. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.

Republican Representatives are largely supportive of the resolution which started in the Senate and has been endorsed by Gov. John Kasich. Kristina Roegner of Hudson said state legislators simply want their federal colleagues to do what they have to do all the time.
“As is required in our state constitution, we have to keep our state budget balanced and that’s sustainable. And now we are calling on Washington to do the same.”

But Democrats were mostly opposed. Representative Chris Redfern of Port
Clinton, who’s also the chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, noted the large number of military and civilian jobs in Ohio, which he said would be jeopardized if such as amendment were created – as would Gov. Kasich’s recently approved Medicaid expansion.
“In 2018, Mr. Speaker, if this balanced budget amendment were to pass and that $4.5 billion be stripped away from Medicaid we would have to offset those cuts at the federal level. We couldn’t go with our tin cup to Washington and hope for the best.”

But Republican Mike Dovilla of Berea near Cleveland said that money might be in danger anyway.
“I would respectfully submit that without decisive action by the several states, and that’s us and the federal government, that these cuts are going to happen anyway. And they’ll happen as a result of our federal government no longer being able to issue debt.”

But conservative Republican Rep. Ron Hood of Ashville south of Columbus said he would vote against the resolution because he fears a “runaway convention” where major changes could be made – for instance, to gun ownership rights and free speech rights – and the states would be forced to vote to accept them.
“That’s the risk we’re looking at here, by voting to open up our Constitution and make changes to our Constitution.”

Ohio is the 20th state to pass a balanced budget amendment resolution. 34 are needed to call a convention, and that process has never been used to amend the US Constitution.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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