In 1979, Nevada joined a parade of state legislatures in asking Congress to call a Constitutional Convention for the limited purpose of adding a provision requiring a balanced budget, except in the case of an emergency. It was nitpicked, amended then amended again – but Governor List finally had a bill to sign on March 12, 1979, which he did. The linked PDF includes the bill and it’s legislative history.
Time wore on through the 80s, and a lot of state legislatures jumped on the bandwagon, but by 1985 states stopped. The effort fell two states short of the required 34.
The last six years of inexcusably irresponsible federal spending, much of it borrowed and showing little return, has sealed the deal. Ohio passed a resolution about six months ago, and Michigan’s house affirmed the Michigan Senate’s intent to become number 34 a couple of weeks ago.
So the tipping point – where two thirds of the states have petitioned congress to convene a convention to consider changing the Constitution to require fiscally responsible political behavior – has happened. Of maybe not – some of the state legislatures later rescinded their petitions and there is disagreement over whether that counts.
A few folks advocate that government debt doesn’t matter. Do your own research. I concluded they are wrong.
If I were lucky enough to represent my state in such a process, I would work hard to ensure the agenda is kept to a balanced budget amendment, and that one was passed.
Here’s a great Wikipedia article on the Balanced Budget Amendment.