- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Some legislators are pushing for a balanced budget amendment to the Mississippi Constitution - a proposal that could appeal to conservative voters but would likely have little practical effect in a state where the law has long required a balanced state budget.

The proposed amendment is in House Concurrent Resolution 22 (http://bit.ly/1vqLKU8 ), which cleared the House Constitution Committee on Tuesday. It now goes to the full House for more debate.

House Constitution Committee Chairman Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, said even though the Legislature balances the budget now, “We don’t know what will happen in the future.”

The proposal was changed slightly in committee to say that the state budget would not have to be balanced in times of war, insurrection, pestilence, natural disasters and national economic depression.

Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, is one of several sponsors of the resolution. Asked about the proposal Tuesday, Chism said: “It just makes a statement that we balance our budget, so why can’t the federal government balance theirs?”

The resolution does not mention the federal government, and even if it did, a state constitutional amendment would have no effect on the federal budget-writing process.

If the resolution clears the House and Senate, the proposed amendment would go on the statewide ballot.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said the proposal might make people feel good, but when the time comes for budget writing: “It shouldn’t change anything.”

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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