Republicans in the state Assembly have passed a resolution calling for a convention of states to draft a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Under Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution, states can call a constitutional convention with the approval of two-thirds of all state legislatures, or 34 of them. Brookfield Republican state Rep. Chris Kapenga's plan would have Wisconsin join those ranks to draw up a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Kapenga described it as a duty.
“I plead with you and the other members to take this seriously, not to shrug off the responsibility that we as state legislators have been given to guide this nation,” Kapenga said.
State Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) says the trouble with a balanced budget amendment is that there have been times in American history when the country had to go into debt to pay for wars it had to win, including the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Civil War and World War II. Riemer said those times may come again.
“So Mr. Speaker, if you're like me, if you love American independence, if you hate slavery and believe in the right of all people to be free, if you think Nazism, fascism and Communism are bad and capitalist democracy is good, vote against this bill,” Riemer said.
While the proposal would authorize an unprecedented step for states, Kapenga's plan would not say what a balanced budget amendment would look like. The measure passed on a party line vote and now heads to the state Senate.