JEFFERSON CITY — Two state legislators have filed a resolution calling for lawmakers in Congress to pass a constitutional amendment forcing the federal government to balance the budget.
This bipartisan effort from the parties' leading House Budget Committee members follows Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's scathing criticism of the Democratic governor Wednesday night after the State of the State address.
The representatives, Allen Icet, R-St. Louis County, and Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said government spending in Washington is out of control and dangerous.
"Rep. Kelly and I both know there are implications to the state when the federal government spends like drunken sailors," Icet said.
Kelly said balancing the budget is an issue important to everyone and goes beyond party politics.
"Why does one's party matter to that? Why is that a relevant consideration?" Kelly asked.
Kelly blames the past and current presidential administrations for abusive spending habits.
"President George Bush drove up the budget ceiling and President (Barack) Obama is not dealing efficiently with the deficit," Kelly said. "This is a bipartisan scandal in the United States, and we bipartisanly ought to fix it."
While the Republican Party is not blameless, the majority of the problems come from the Democratic agenda in the White House and Congress, Icet said.
Kelly said two things worry him the most about the current administration's spending. Not only does the deficit spending take money out of the economy, but the current spending habits in Washington might give more power to the federal government, he said.
"The federal government's power can grow exponentially if they don't have to be responsible about the spending," Kelly said.
In 1983, the Missouri House had passed a similar resolution to the one filed by Kelly and Icet. The resolution called for a constitutional convention to ratify the Constitution for a federal balanced budget. Kelly voted for the resolution in 1983.
No action has been done with the passed resolution since the 1983 vote in the House, and Kelly said the call for action needed renewal during the current economic climate. Both the Missouri House and Senate passed the resolution in 1983. The resolution only sends a message to Congress on the General Assembly's opinion; it does not enact law.
Other states have either passed or are working on resolutions calling for a balanced federal budget to send to Congress , Kelly said.
Icet said he hopes Congress looks at stringent state laws as examples for a constitutional amendment. The Missouri Constitution requires the governor to submit a budget to the Missouri General Assembly within thirty days of the beginning of a regular session. Gov. Jay Nixon presented the General Assembly with the budget Wednesday night.
If Congress were to pass a proposed federal budget amendment, it would go to the states for ratification. Three-fourths of the states would have to approve the proposed amendment before the amendment would pass. Kelly said two more states would have to send resolutions to Congress before it could consider such an amendment.
The support for the resolution should be unanimous in the General Assembly, Icet said.
"Telling people we don't have the money to do everything isn't pleasant," Icet said. "But it's obvious to me that it makes simple sense that the federal government requires a balanced budget."