January 17, 2017

Balanced Budget Amendment Clears Senate Committee

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
A Senate committee approved language that would amend Indiana’s constitution to require the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget. - Brandon Smith/IPB

A Senate committee approved language that would amend Indiana’s constitution to require the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget.

Brandon Smith/IPB

A Senate committee approved language that would amend Indiana’s constitution to require the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget.

Former Gov. Mike Pence first pushed the balanced budget amendment in 2015.

It easily passed the General Assembly that year. If it passes again, this session or next, it will go to voters for their approval in the 2018 general election.

But some lawmakers question the amendment’s usefulness. Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) notes the Indiana Constitution already bars the legislature from creating debt, except in emergencies, and voted against the amendment.

“It does seem to me to be more about somehow restating that Indiana is committed to a balanced budget. I think we’ve shown that we already are,” Stoops says.

But Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), the amendment’s author, says he wants language in the constitution that’s, as he puts it, harder to manipulate.

“However, created a degree of flexibility in case of emergency or unforeseen circumstance,” Hershman says of the amendment’s language.

The amendment allows the legislature to create an unbalanced budget with a two-thirds majority vote of the House and Senate.

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