Proposed balanced budget amendment passes first test

The governor’s proposed balanced budget amendment passed the General Assembly late Wednesday night.

Senate Joint Resolution 19 would amend the Indiana Constitution to prohibit lawmakers from passing a budget that spends more than the state’s projected revenue.

The resolution must be approved by the legislature again in either 2017 or 2018 before being able to go to the ballot for ratification.

“Tonight, the Indiana General Assembly took a historic step to enshrine fiscal discipline in our state’s political charter,” Pence said in a written statement. “By passing a balanced budget amendment to the Indiana Constitution, we will ensure that future state governments spend wisely, live within their means, and protect our children and grandchildren from being burdened by mountains of debt.”

The legislature typically passes a balanced budget, except when there is an economic downturn or when trying to cut taxes to reduce a big state surplus.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said SJR 19 is unnecessary.

“Once again, I think we’re trying to muddle up our constitution,” Tallian said.

The balanced budget amendment was part of Pence’s legislative agenda.

“Tonight was just step one in the process, and I am truly grateful for the bipartisan support of this important constitutional provision,” Pence said. “I look forward to the day when the balanced budget amendment can be sent to the people of Indiana for approval.”

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