As we in the state legislature go about drafting Ohio's budget bill every two years, one of the challenges we face is that the Ohio Constitution requires a balanced budget. And yet, although this makes our job of allocating money difficult, we also know that it is in the long-term, best interest of our state-so we gladly do it.
This source of fiscal responsibility and accountability to taxpayers has allowed Ohio to yield better economic health for many years that we otherwise would not. So the question remains of why the federal government cannot do the same thing.
Just from 2009 to 2012, the United States borrowed $6 trillion. When you add that to the trillions of dollars that Congress has opted to borrow in previous years, it is no wonder that the United States Department of Treasury projects our national debt to exceed $17 trillion by October 2013. At what point do we, as a country, decide that enough is enough? And who will lead the effort?
Fortunately, our nation's founders knew that it would be important for the states to have a check on the federal government. That's why a system was put in place to amend the United States Constitution. With our country at a crossroads, the near future could very well be the time to adopt a federal balanced budget amendment.
My friend and colleague, State Representative Matt Huffman of Lima, recently introduced House Joint Resolution (HJR) 7, which calls for a convention of the states for the purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. If this convention were to take place after 34 states call for a balanced budget amendment (and about half of them already have), it would take 38 states to ratify the amendment. Rep. Huffman has been leading the charge on this issue for years and has been working closely with the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, a nationwide effort to ensure the amendment's passage.
Although it might seem like insurmountable odds, I believe that more and more Americans are becoming aware of the financial challenges facing our nation, and they want something to be done about it. If Congress cannot fix the problem itself, it is important that we explore other avenues.
A balanced budget amendment is something that our country has needed for quite a long time. In the past, I have sponsored similar legislation to HJR 7, and I am generally supportive of all efforts to balance the budget and poise ourselves for a more economically sustainable future.
I'm pleased that more and more state legislators, in Ohio and throughout the nation, are taking the reins and calling for a balanced budget amendment. I'm confident that HJR 7 will receive bipartisan support, and Ohio will be one more state making our voices heard on the important subject of fiscal responsibility. Ohio has proved to be a model of fiscal responsibility over the last few years, and it is my hope that Washington will take notice and begin to emulate that.