Florida Legislature Pushing for National Constitutional Budget Amendment

Florida Legislature Pushing for National Constitutional Budget Amendment

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
February 19, 2024

A resolution seeking to amend the US Constitution to grant the President line item veto power when approving bills is progressing through the Florida legislature. 

The resolution was recently introduced and approved by the Florida Senate’s Fiscal Policy committee. 

‘Line-item’ veto power refers to an executive’s ability to approve or reject certain portions of a law passed by Congress without approving or rejecting the entire law. 

In 1996, the Line Item Veto Act was enacted, and the US president used the authority 82 times to veto line items from the federal budget. However, the US Supreme Court in 1998 found the practice to be unconstitutional absent a constitutional amendment. 

According to the resolution, 44 states grant their governors line-item veto authority. The resolution further argues that line-item veto authority prevents wasteful “pork barrel” spending that benefits special interests at the expense of taxpayers. 

Consequently, the resolution invokes Florida’s Article V Constitutional authority to request a constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing a line-item veto amendment.

The Florida legislature is also considering another Article V constitutional convention request to require the federal government maintain a balanced federal budget.

To be successful, a request for a constitutional convention must be supported by two-thirds of all US states. 

Currently, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming have all called for a convention.

According to the Urban Institute, nearly all US states have balanced budget requirements (BBRs). BBRs limit governments’ capacity to increase debt through deficit spending by imposing statutory restrictions on sending power. 

The US government is currently $34 trillion dollars in debt. If Sirois’ resolution passes and enough states support the convention initiative, ultimately resulting in an amendment, US debt would have to be reduced. 

Earlier this year, the US’s credit rating was downgraded by the international credit rating agency Fitch Ratings. 

On April 21, 2010, the Legislature of the State of Florida passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, which similarly called for a constitutional convention to balance the federal budget. 

Such resolution, however, was written in a manner that would enable the convention to consider amendment proposals separate from those regarding a balanced federal budget.

Some lawmakers fear the potential for a ‘runaway convention’ to result in a proliferation of amendments not originally intended by convention proponents.

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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