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Will Texas Lead? An Open Letter to Governor Abbott

Vice Chair Paulette Rakestraw

Dear Governor Abbott:

I am Vice Chair of the Balanced Budget Compact Commission, having been appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to represent the State of Georgia in advancing the Balanced Budget Compact. I am also a sitting member of the legislature in Georgia. My colleagues, Chairman Mead Treadwell (former Lt. Gov. of the State of Alaska) and Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden (Mississippi Commissioner) have requested that I clarify a few points for your consideration.

First of all, your declaration of support for the Article V process was of some considerable inspiration in confirming the appropriateness of our states looking to Texas for leadership.

10% of the states in the Union have committed to Texas leading the Balanced Budget Compact effort by hosting the convention it organizes. We agree with your declaration of an emergency for state action in this regard. And we also agree that “runaway convention” concerns are overblown.

Here’s how Speaker Pro Tem Snowden (Mississippi Commissioner) put it to me earlier in the day, with which I agree:

the “runaway convention” concern, if one exists for us at all, is far down just about everyone’s list. The true worry I have, as I have shared, is that the more topics attempted to be addressed, the less likely to get consensus... If we really want an amendment, which IS our goal, then we must remain focused on the most important element (fiscal restraint). If this succeeds, then the Compact approach may profitably be used to attack other potential Article V objectives. Nothing we are doing is at odds with Gov. Abbott’s expressed call for “emergency” action. Indeed, we conceivably can have something in place in 18 months, where the COS approach likely would take a decade.

Commissioner Snowden

Put another way, the value of the Balanced Budget Compact is that it delivers the full state-controlled Article V package in one piece of legislation—the amendment, the application, the delegates, the rules, the logistics, and the ratification—not to mention an oversight commission. As a result, no reasonable person can point to uncertainties about the process to justify the runaway convention fear. But this is a side effect of good, efficient and meticulous planning, not the goal. The goal is having both the amendment process and the content advancing to the finish line as quickly as possible. And the success of the Balanced Budget Compact in each state also advances other Article V efforts by leading the way on vetting and securing commitments of ratification of a specific Balanced Budget Amendment.

I could write a much longer advocacy piece for your consideration, but the major point I wanted to underscore is that state comity is at issue here. The Compact Commission’s request that the Balanced Budget Compact be considered for the special session you plan to call for the Texas Legislature is not mere advocacy.

It is not every day that a piece of legislation yields a request for support from the only interstate agency advancing an Article V effort, as well as the past and future governors and legislative leadership of five states. It is my understanding that even a personal call to you was placed by Governor Bryant of Mississippi.

In fact, the Compact’s member states have been looking for leadership from the State of Texas since 2014. The leading role of Texas was cemented in the Compact for a Balanced Budget as the designated Article V convention location (Dallas) and also the litigation venue (U.S. Court of Appeals - 5th Circuit). The five member states of the Compact set aside their pride and preferences in this regard because it was believed Texas would lead.

In light of these observations, will you include the Balanced Budget Compact in the special session agenda?

Governor Abbott: Will Texas lead?


Hon. Paulette Rakestraw (Rep. GA-19)

Vice Chair, Compact Commission for the Compact for a Balanced Budget

PS. Dear Reader, if you agree with the sentiments of this letter, please let Governor Abbott know that you stand with the Compact for a Balanced Budget Commission by clicking here.

PPS. Compact for America Educational Foundation and the Compact Commission of the Compact for a Balanced Budget do not support or oppose Governor Greg Abbott or any other person running for any elected office.

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