Throughout my time in the Legislature, many constituents have expressed concerns about federal overspending and our nation’s debt crisis. Despite our state’s history of fiscal integrity and passing an honestly balanced budget, decisions being made at the federal level have weighed heavily on Indiana’s economic situation. In fact, I was just reading an article recently about how Indiana is working to pay off its debt unlike the federal government that continues to borrow billions of dollars unchecked and with seemingly limitless authority.
In light of this situation, many people have asked me, “What can we do to address the issue of federal overspending?” Last December, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from 33 states met at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate in Virginia to discuss federal issues and the rights, vested in the states by the U.S. Constitution, to serve as a watchdog to the federal government. This year, as the second meeting, I am happy to share with you that Indiana is taking the lead by calling state leaders to our Capitol Building to address these concerns.
In order to prevent a complete federal government takeover, like the Founders feared, we must work to clarify its role, outlined in the U.S. Constitution, to protect the rights of the people and the states. According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the document can be amended in two ways. One of these ways allows the states to bypass Congress and work together on the changes they would like to see made. In order to do this, two-thirds of the state legislatures must apply for a convention call, forcing Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments. To become part of the Constitution, any proposed amendments must then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Some Americans, understandably, are leery about altering our Constitution. As our government’s founding document, which has allowed our country to stand out amongst the rest, I share these same concerns. That is why I was proud to support a step last session to prevent what is known as a ‘runaway convention’ from taking place. I voted in favor of Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 224 to limit the ability of convention delegates to deviate from their agenda.
The goal of this particular meeting at the Statehouse is not to propose an amendment to the Constitution, but rather, allow for state leaders to come together and discuss the idea. The meeting, however, is being held with one specific concept in mind; requiring a balanced federal budget or a similar plan to rein in the national debt. If Indiana were to eventually apply for a convention call on this issue, SEA 224 would ensure only this issue could be discussed at that time.
As someone who firmly believes in reducing the size and scope of government, this gathering is an important step towards limiting the far-reaching authority of our federal government. When our democracy was established, we created a system of checks and balances to prevent government from overstepping its authority by separating power between the judicial, legislative and executive branches. In the same manner, the provisions outlined in Article V of our Constitution provide additional checks to further protect the people and states.
It is exciting to see this happening right here in Indiana, and I urge you to pay close attention as it unfolds. We are not powerless in the face of D.C. dysfunctionality, and it is time we exercised our constitutional right to ensure the federal government is accountable to those it represents: all Americans, in all fifty states.