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Article V resolution gives Arizona a seat at the table

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The people have spoken.

If nothing else, this year proved what millions of Americans have been saying all along: Washington, D.C. is broken. And now – with a businessman in the White House and a governor in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building – we finally have an opportunity to drain the swamp.

So today, as the governor of Arizona, I’m proud to applaud our state legislators for passing an “Article V resolution” to limit the scope and jurisdiction of the federal government and finally impose fiscal restraints on the tax-and-spenders in Washington.

Article Five of the United States Constitution states that, when two-thirds of state legislatures resolve to do so, they may call together a “convention of states” to discuss (and even officially propose) changes to the way things are done in Washington. Think of it as the CEO stepping in to bring order to an office run amok. Passing this resolution has added Arizona to the growing list of states that have applied for such a convention, making it clear that, when the federal government won’t willingly listen to the people, the people will make them listen.

Ducey-Headshot-Official

Gov. Doug Ducey

I’m currently in my third year as governor, and I’m all too aware of the unfortunate reality that, for far too long, our state’s hands have been tied by federal bureaucracy. Drugs and human smuggling along the border. Unfair regulations. Out-of-control government spending. They just haven’t listened. I am more than eager to join with other states, hand-in-hand, to throw out the red tape and clean out the cobwebs, especially in areas that are best left to state and local governments.

One of those areas: Balancing the budget.

Washington could learn a lot from the states about getting their finances in order. In Arizona, we took a $1 billion budget shortfall and turned it into a positive structural balance in two quick years. We did it by tightening our belts, prioritizing our expenses, and acknowledging that we have to live within our means like everyone else.

We got rid of taxpayer-funded lobbyists; consolidated the state plane fleet; paid down debts, which allowed us to save money by refinancing our loans; and streamlined agencies so that they operate more efficiently, ensuring each cent from taxpayers goes further. In short, we trimmed the fat first and made difficult choices second – and only when necessary.

Arizona did what families across our country do every day when they balance their checkbooks: Basic arithmetic. You can’t spend more than you make.

The federal government has taken the opposite approach. For eight years, the administration ignored our overspending crisis, set the building on fire whenever responsible lawmakers mentioned the word “deficits,” and pretended like the federal bureaucracy is a 7-ounce filet mignon with no fat to be cut.

Now, the national debt is approaching $20 trillion – a staggering and entirely unacceptable figure. It is reckless behavior that proves how urgently Washington’s culture of negligence needs to be addressed by states that have gotten things done.

And there are other issues that could be addressed, from federal term limits to judicial reform.

A number of successful governors, whose hard work has done wonders for their respective states, have expressed support for passing an Article V resolution. That list includes Governors Greg Abbott of Texas, Jeb Bush of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and many others. It also includes members of Congress, like Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Marco Rubio of Florida.

These are elected leaders with an array of political beliefs and from very different parts of the country who all agree on one important thing: States deserve a seat at the table.

Civic engagement is absolutely vital to our nation. It’s why the first bill I signed after taking office was the American Civics Bill to ensure that all students in Arizona know the who, what, when, where, and why about how our great nation came to be – and have the intellect, interest, and opportunity to participate in the public policy process.

That’s what this resolution means to me.

Its passage this week means that our state will continue to do what we’ve always done: Take the lead and show the nation exactly what Arizona’s trailblazing spirit looks like by taking it straight to Washington, D.C.

Doug Ducey is in his third year as Arizona governor

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The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.

9 comments

  1. As a member of the team of volunteers that worked for over three years to see this resolution passed by our legislature, I’d like to suggest that it might have happened a lot sooner had Governor Ducey voiced his support BEFORE the vote, instead of waiting to jump on the bandwagon after the job was done. I would further suggest that if he wants to see what true leadership at the state level looks like, he need look no further than Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott, from his wheelchair, publicly stood with the people in that state’s grassroots effort to pass similar legislation, and spearheaded the drive in their statehouse. What Arizona has needed these last three years was not a half-hearted, late-to-the-party cheerleader, but simply a LEADER.

  2. While Ducey could have joined sooner, he still deserves recognition, and we should be happy that he too feels the same way. I find comfort knowing our governer shares this same opinion as many of us. Thank you governer. Looking forward to seeing if any other states pass this. I am however, shocked that it just barely passed, facing list of opposition from other reps.

  3. A couple of points. First, this not a “Convention of States” application as has been reported. The phrase “convention of states” is used once in the application. The official title of the application is “A Concurrent resolution applying to the Congress of the United States to call a convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States.” A “convention of the states” presents a great danger to this nation. You can read the facts about COS at http://www.foavc.org/Pages/Page_Five.htm

    Second, the governor fails to mention facts of public record. For example, he fails to mention the states have already submitted sufficient applications to cause 11 convention calls or the more important fact Congress is currently counting the applications and already arrived at the first set of applications meaning a convention call is mandated. Most important he fails to mention a “convention of the states” was held last September, proposed six amendments and these are currently in Congress awaiting the ratification process required by the Constitution.

    In short the governor applauds something that was done last September. All of this information may be read at the http://www.foavc.org website.

  4. Amending the U.S. Constitution will not make Washington suddenly start obeying it. Clever politicians and bureaucrats will do what they have always done–find ways around it or simply continue to ignore it. Even if Congress was bound by the proposed balanced budget amendment, the amendment actually allows for an INCREASE in spending and debt levels from the current values!

    Those that have placed their hopes in an Article V convention of states as the cure for what ails the country have set themselves up for a big disappointment. The real solution is for the states (Arizona included) to stop suckling at the teat of the federal government. The federal government takes our tax dollars then extorts us with them. He who pays the bills gets to make the rules.

  5. Consider this Michael. Let’s assume for the purpose of this discussion a “Convention of States” is not held but instead an Article V Convention or “convention for proposing amendments” as intended by the Founders is held. In the first place the public record shows 11 such conventions are to be held. The conventions, according to the 1787 convention, the Supreme Court and Congress are to be elected. None of this is true with a Convention of States.

    Now what is the big difference?

    The big difference is with an Article V Convention you have all the applications considered and the subjects they want to discuss on the agenda. With a Convention of States you are locked in by a pre-determined political agenda so one of the biggest advantages of the convention, the ability to reason out things, to discuss them, to formulate new ideas is completely off the table. A Convention of States is nothing more than formality with the American people unable to make any contribution whatsoever.

    Now, for the purpose of example, let me use that public record to suggest an answer to your valid objection. One of the issues on the agenda of the Article V Convention not permitted by a COS convention is an IRR. Initiative, referendum, recall. You could write an amendment in which any budget INCREASE must be approved by a referendum vote of the people BEFORE it takes place. You could permit an initiative which permits the people to consider REDUCTIONS in the budget. The obvious power of recall of course becomes a clear threat to anyone not obeying the Constitution. I’m not suggesting, nor am I interested in a debate over this proposal. It’s just to demonstrate what can be considered in an Article V Convention instead of a convention of states.

    My point in an an Article V Convention ideas like this can be discussed and formulated. They cannot in an convention of the states.

    This is why the state of Arizona wisely applied for an Article V Convention instead of a “Convention of States. See: http://www.foavc.org/Pages/Packet_21.pdf .

  6. Michael Gibbs is misinformed on two counts… First, he assumes that a Balanced Budget Amendment will be written so poorly that it will permit tax increases to be used as a work-around. Secondly, he again assumes that a Balanced Budget Amendment won’t be part of a major constitutional overhaul of our entire financial structure, to include re-tooling our current system of remittances and federal bribery.

    If Article V advocates were as simple-minded as some apparently think, then it would be fair to assume such simple-minded remedies. For the ill-informed, please know that such is not the case.

  7. @MJ Alexander, my comments about the balance budget amendment are not speculation, they are based on the wording of the proposal before the legislature. It will do little to reign in the federal government’s long-term spending and debt problems.

    @Bill Walker, I suggest you read Article V of the U.S. Constitution, it makes no distinction between “convention of states” and “convention for proposing amendments,” nor does it specify any rules about how such a convention will operate or who will attend.

    We cannot rely on the claims of a convention’s proponents because when it actually happens, they will not decide on the rules, those assembled will, just as every assembled body in U.S. history has.

  8. Unfortunately, Bill Walker’s comments do not clarify matters, but muddy them instead. There is no difference between a “Convention of States” and an “Article V Convention to Propose Amendments to the Constitution,” other than the number of words used to describe an identical process. When it comes to providing a path for the states to circumvent an intransigent Congress in proposing amendments to the Constitution, the document provides only one process, and that process is for only one purpose.

    Article V of our Constitution is clear… when 2/3 of the state legislatures apply to Congress, a convention shall be called. Beyond that purely ministerial function, no agent of any branch of the federal government may be involved. The only limitations on the subject matter to be debated at such a convention are set by the state legislatures themselves. In this instance, Arizona and 8 other states, so far, are limiting their identical applications as follows: To introduce, debate and propose amendments that would 1) Impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, 2) reduce the size, scope and jurisdiction of the federal government, and 3) impose mandatory term limits on all federal officials, to include the judiciary.

    There are indeed several other advocacy groups out there encouraging state legislators to apply to Congress for multiple Article V conventions on other subjects and for other purposes, many of those wishing to INCREASE the size and scope of government, but those are not part of this discussion.

    I am certain that Mr. Walker means well, but to conflate all off these efforts on the one hand, while creating a non-existent difference on the other, is not helpful at all. The genius of Article V, and the republic that it’s meant to preserve, would be better served if all of our efforts were tailored to educate rather than obfuscate.

  9. There is a clear and distinct difference between an elected Article V Convention and an unelected Convention of States run by a cabal of a few state politicians. Read the section on the FOAVC about COS. Read their states and understand they want felony arrest for delegates who don’t obey instructions of the cabal. Read the fact they want to take away your right to vote. Read the facts of public record and then decide: do you want to have a voice in decisions effecting the Constitution or do you want to turn it over to a cabal and let them decide your fate? It’s that simple See: http://www.foavc.org/Pages/Page_Five.htm . Also the best answer to the idea of COS that state legislatures control the convention because it is a convention of states is put to rest by a state in response to a COS application by the state of South Carolina. See: http://foa5c.org/01page/Amendments/Delaware_response.jpg

    I’m interested to see if Mr. Alexander will take the time to refute the facts as presented. Perhaps when a state law mandates FIVE YEARS in state prison for failure to follow instructions he can explain how this is required to accomplish the purpose. Is he afraid the people will not support COS agenda? If so, why? Can it be he realizes the plan COS wants in an open, free debate simply will not hold up to public review? If so then the purpose of all of this is clear: rig the convention because it’s only way you can get the COS enacted.

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