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Lawmakers Hear Testimony On Proposal To Amend US Constitution

Proposal Would Call For Balanced Budget Amendment

Wisconsin State Capitol
JeromeG111 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a proposal to add Wisconsin to a list of states calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Republican-backed proposal would bar the federal government from spending more than it takes in. Twenty-nine states have passed similar resolutions.

Supporters say a balanced budget amendment is necessary for the safety and stability of the United States.

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“Perhaps the states have been silent for too long without taking action,” said Rep. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown. “This is our opportunity to take action, this is exercising our state rights in the Constitution.”

Opponents say a balanced budget amendment would make it harder for the federal government to respond to economic downturns and natural disasters.

“It’s like the economy has cancer and you won’t let the economy get chemotherapy or radiation, it’s like the economy has diabetes and you won’t give the economy insulin — you’d be killing the economy,” said Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Some opponents also warn against a so-called “runaway convention” that would make unexpected changes to the U.S. Constitution.

The proposal is up for a committee vote later this week.