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Silvey talks balanced budgets before Congress

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the state’s leading budget minds was invited to Washington D.C. last week to talk to Congress about balancing budgets.

Sen. Ryan Silvey, who sits in the No. 2 spot in Senate appropriations and once served as the youngest House Budget Chairman in the country, visited the Committee on the Budget in the U.S. Congressional House of Representatives to testify about the importance of balanced budgets while the body debated USHR 19, a resolution calling for a balanced budget amendment.

Silvey originally made a name for himself with a famous sign that hung on his door while he served as Budget Chairman in the House.

“Welcome to the House Budget Chairman’s Office,” the sign read. “Please ask yourself the following questions: 1) Am I here to ask the Chairman for more money than I got last year?

If so, proceed to No. 2….

2) Have I lost my mind?”

Sen. Ryan Silvey
Sen. Ryan Silvey

The Kansas City-area state senator was requested to testify largely thanks to his profile through the National Council of State Legislatures as having a knack for budget work. U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-MO 4, helped arrange for Silvey to speak to the committee after she was approached by the chairman. Silvey told members of the committee that the fiscal health of the nation was a bipartisan issue, noting that during the 1980’s when Missouri’s legislature was controlled by Democrats, they passed a balanced budget resolution, largely as a response to President Reagan’s new spending.

“I think the organized push for a convention of the states has gotten [Congress’] attention,” Silvey told The Missouri Times. “It’s just like the Missouri legislature dealing with an initiative petition. If we put something on the ballot, we have some control over the language and the specifics. So, if Congress waits for a convention of the states to be called to talk about a balanced budget amendment, they are going to have no control over that process.”

Silvey, who also represents Missouri as part of the National Council of State Legislatures, supports a growing movement to call a “convention of the states” which allows appropriately appointed representatives from each state to gather outside of the U.S. congressional process and approve new amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Silvey said that a balanced budget for Congress was still an attainable goal so long as the move was bipartisan and gradual to ease any pains from potentially deep cuts to government programs.

“If Congress would put us on a glide path to where we see that we are closer and coser every year, then I think in a number of years we should be able to get back to being there,” Silvey said. “In 49 of the states, we don’t allow ourselves to get into a situation like they are at on the federal level because we have to balance budgets. The reason the states are doing better off right now is that very reason, we don’t allow ourselves to get into a situation like Congress is in.”