By state Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville
Living in a free society, we are challenged to accomplish our shared goals in a fiscally responsible, democratic fashion.
Shared goals include things like a quality education, effective public safety services, good roads, robust natural resources and a strong economy. While we share the same goals, how we accomplish them is often the source of controversy.
What should not be controversial is the need for government at all levels to balance its budget.
Earlier this year, the Legislature completed the state budget early for the third year in a row. This budget is balanced and fiscally sound.
* Billions in long-term debt paid down.
* $490 million more than last year for education, including a 3.2 percent increase for public schools.
* $350 million in new transportation dollars to fix our roads.
* Local police and fire services bolstered by $46 million more in revenue sharing.
* More than $75 million to the rainy day fund to avoid future budget crises.
Although getting to this point required tough decisions, this budget proves that we can balance the books while making real investments in those shared goals.
Part of the reason for this is that Article 5, Section 8 of our state constitution requires the budget to be balanced. The provision serves the people of Michigan well, and considering the current state of the nation's finances, it would serve our nation just as well.
Michigan families, workers and business owners know all too well that money doesn't grow on trees. Unfortunately, the federal government spends like it does and in doing so endangers the financial and economic opportunity we enjoy as Americans.
Worse yet, it's creating a credit card tab we'll be handing on to our kids and grandkids.
Right now, the national debt is just under $17 trillion. Those figures can be tough to comprehend in practical terms, so look at it this way: Every taxpaying-age citizen is already on the hook for almost $150,000.
Like two freight trains headed toward each other on the same track, uncontrolled spending in Washington, D.C., and the national debt it inflates will be devastating to our nation and its economy if we don't put the brakes on both.
You only need to look to Europe to observe the financial and economic chaos such policies create.
That's why I recently introduced Senate Joint Resolution V in the Michigan Legislature officially petitioning Congress to take the necessary steps toward passing a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the United States Constitution.
Seventeen states have already approved the resolution. Once adopted by 16 more, it becomes binding on Congress, making passage in Michigan crucial.
The BBA will prohibit massive budget deficits year after year at the federal level, halt the uncontrolled expansion of the federal government, and end skyrocketing increases in the national debt.
It will require the application of these basic principles: Prioritize your needs. Live within your means. Balance your budget. Plan ahead.
It really is that simple. And simple common sense is what Washington could use a whole lot more of right now.
We may not always agree on how many tax dollars to spend and where, but regardless of who is in power, balancing the federal budget should be a goal that we all share.
Adopting a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will take us one step closer to that goal and will help set the entire nation on a course toward fiscal stability, economic recovery and a future we'll be proud to hand to the next generation.
State Sen. Mike Green represents Arenac, Bay, Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola Counties in the 31st State Senate District.