Academy of States 1.0

The Academy of States is a collaborative effort of leading advocates who desire that our several state legislatures would bring reform to our federal government through a convention of the states authorized and empowered by Artice V of the U.S. Constitution.


July 30, 2021      ~      Salt Lake City, Utah

The Invitation

This event is an interactive, bi-partisan Academy of States where you, as a state lawmaker, will cast your ballot to call a “No-Runaway” Article V Convention for proposing amendments. Whether you agree or disagree with the responsibility of the States to govern our nation, you need to be heard.

The Congressional Budget Office has long warned that America’s federal spending trajectory will bankrupt the nation – and this was before the recent pandemic spending spree! The national debt has topped 100% of GDP threatening Social Security, national security, and the financial security of the American family.


Register to learn how an Article V amendments convention will actually play out and explore a range of proposals all aimed at putting America’s fiscal sustainability to Washington, DC.


Participants will cast their ballots to decide which ideas to pursue.


Given the dysfunction in Congress, there is growing interest in a state-drafted voter-ratified constitutional amendment, such as to require a balanced federal budget.”


During this event, you will


  • Discover why and how the States must act to protect Social Security, national security, and the American Dream for future generations from a U.S. Congress addicted to deficit spending.


  • Compare and vote on the optimal fiscal constraints to maximize national security and prosperity while preserving Social Security.


  • Learn about and vote for or against firewalls to ensure a successful “No-Runaway” Article V Convention. These “No-Runaway-Convention” measures include: 


1. Delegate Instructions and Recall and Sanctions Laws as passed by 14 states. 

2. Rules adopted for an Article V Convention as approved by 19 States. 

3. Learn about the successful 1933 ratification of the 21st Amendment by State Conventions.


Academy registrants will receive a complimentary digital copy of A Fiscal Cliff in which co-editor Dr. Barry Poulson observes, “Unless we reform our fiscal rules and institutions, we are not likely to solve the debt crisis and restore sustainable fiscal policies.”


U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Herrell

will discuss the protections against a runaway convention and announce her intent to introduce the LUVBBA Resolution in Congress upon receiving 34 active Article V BBA applications.

David Biddulph 

will discuss the history of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, and the importance of a vote of the people through the ratification process.

Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker 

will highlight his Public Debt/GDP Constitutional Amendment proposal.  With broad-based consensus among economists and concerned politicians, this pro-growth amendment would allow Congress the flexibility to determine the specific spending and/or revenue adjustments necessary to achieve the public debt/GDP goals.

Professor Robert G. Natelson

will present the history of safe and effective conventions and his Article V aggregation research, which includes 32 active applications toward a BBA convention.

State Senator Kelly Townsend

will present the significance of the 2017 Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention and the Model Rules the convention created.

Dr. Barry Poulson

will present the Balanced Budget Amendment with Expenditures Limitation Act.  Based on the world’s most effective enacted fiscal rules, this proposal will offer both a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and enabling statutory legislation with explicit fiscal targets and the measures required to meet them.



Executive Summary

Dozens of state legislators gathered in Salt Lake City on July 30, 2021 to learn about Article V's state convention mechanism for proposing constitutional amendments, and how it can be used to impose fiscal sanity on Washington.

Ken Ivory, former Utah State Representative and Chair of both the Convention of States Project’s 2016 Williamsburg Convention and the 2017 Phoenix Convention, served as host and moderator. He was joined by
• David Walker: former Comptroller General and CEO of the US Government Accountability Office
• Professor Rob Natelson: Senior Fellow of Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute
• Dr. Barry Poulson: University of Colorado Economics Professor Emeritus
• David Biddulph: co-founder of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force and Let Us Vote for a BBA
• Bob Carlstrom: President of AMAC Action, the lobbying arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens
• Congresswoman and former New Mexico State Representative Yvette Harrell
• South Carolina State Senator Rex Rice.

Panel Discussion
The expert panel explored a wide range of topics including the existential threat posed by excessive spending and debt to our freedom, prosperity, and national security; the efficacy of amendments and safety of the state-convention method for proposing them; and the current convention application & aggregation landscape. The panel was unanimous in concluding that there is no reason to think Congress will reverse its out-of-control spending on its own: restraints will need to be imposed from the outside, and the Untied States Constitution puts that responsibility on the shoulders of state legislators.

The Current BBA Landscape
Natelson opined that applications for a plenary convention (one at which any amendment is on the table) may be aggregated with limited-subject applications in order to call a limited-subject convention; but given its track record of antipathy towards Article V conventions, it will likely require intense political pressure on Congress before they will fulfill this responsibility. There are currently 27 applications for an Article V convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment, and 6 for a plenary convention. South Carolina is poised to become the 28th state to pass a BBA application, putting the total at the necessary two-thirds of the states. Senator Rice reported that the application has been approved by the House and passed out of committee in the Senate, where nearly half of the members have signed on as sponsors. He anticipates a floor vote in January, possibly followed by reconciliation. Mississippi’s application restricts the convention to specific amendment language, and would need to be modified or replaced by an application from another state in order to hold a convention that permits meaningful consideration of multiple options.

Congresswoman Herrell pledged to file a resolution in Congress to call the first-ever Article V Convention in American history upon passage of the 34th application. Proposed Amendments Attendees also learned about three possible approaches to achieving fiscal restraint in Washington.

• Citing a number of states whose legislators find ways to sidestep their state constitution’s balanced budget requirement, Walker advocated instead for a cap on the debt-to-GDP ratio. The advantages of this approach include simplicity; concurrence among economists across the political spectrum that debt-to-GDP is an important metric; its potential to secure bipartisan support; and flexibility for Congress in meeting the objective.

• Dr. Poulson offered a Swiss Debt Break-style system, which requires controls on spending and equilibrium between spending and revenue. The main advantage of this approach is its documented success in Switzerland.

• Biddulph presented the Maximizing Americans’ Prosperity plan, which requires that growth in Congressional spending from year to year may never exceed the growth in Americans’ household income. This approach throttles the growth of spending instead of requiring actual spending cuts, which may make it more palatable to legislators and other influencers; and is endorsed by the Fitch credit rating agency. Biddulph is also organizing political pressure on Congress to designate ratification for this amendment via state convention rather than state legislature, which would give voters a more direct voice in the ratification process. His polling indicates that 83% of respondents, no matter their political affiliation, support this approach. All concurred that any amendment package must include a mechanism for emergencies like a declared war; transparency measures such as a constitutional requirement for an annual budget and GAAP-style accounting standards; and enforceability through penalties that can be imposed on individual members of Congress.

Carlstrom added that any proposal should address pay-down of existing debt. State Legislator Action Items Attendees were provided with over a hundred pages of resource material.

Ivory wrapped up by encouraging state legislators to step up to the following tasks:
• Work to pass delegate selection & oversight and state ratifying convention laws
• Build consensus with colleagues about which fiscal controls make the most sense
• Begin to identify specific candidates to serve as delegates to the convention
• Pass an application for a BBA or, better yet, a plenary Article V convention to backfill Mississippi’s application and any others that might be rescinded
• Encourage their congressional delegation to support the Herrell Resolution to call the convention
• Join the Phoenix Correspondence Commission

“This will be the greatest hands-on civics lesson of our lifetime."

Ken Ivory




                   PDF Handout

This 174-page document includes all the resources and handouts from the academy.

It includes bookmarks to provide an easily navigatable menu.


Video Q&A from the Fiscal Responsibility Academy

All links open on YouTube

Is a Balanced Budget/Fiscal Responsibility Amendment Necessary for a Sustainable Economic Future? 

The Honorable David Walker, Former US Comptroller General

Can a Balanced Budget/Fiscal Responsibility Amendment be Enforced? 

Panel Discussion

Would a Balanced Budget/Fiscal Responsibility Amendment Necessarily Result in Higher Taxes? 

Panel Discussion

Can Article V be Safely Used to Solve the Federal Debt Crisis? 

Professor Robert Natelson, Senior Fellow at The Independence Institute

What Happens if Congress Refuses to Exercise its Ministerial Duty to “Call” an Article V Convention?  Professor Robert Natelson, Senior Fellow at The Independence Institute

Are Constitutional Amendments Effective? 

Professor Robert Natelson, Senior Fellow at The Independence Institute 

What Legal Protections can be Added by the States to Ensure Article V Conventions cannot "Run Away?" 

Professor Robert Natelson, Senior Fellow at The Independence Institute 

What is the History and Significance of the State Convention Mode of Ratification? 

David Biddulph, Co-founder of the Let Us Vote Foundation 

How Close is the Count for Calling an Article V Convention? 

Professor Robert Natelson, Senior Fellow at The Independence Institute 

What are the Leading Proposals to Guide a Balanced Budget/Fiscal Responsibility Amendment?


Who has the power to impose accountability on Congress? 

Bob Carlstrom, President, AMAC Action

Concluding Remarks and the Significance of the Phoenix Correspondence Commission 

Ken Ivory, Moderator/Tom Llewellyn, BBA Planning Convention Commissioner 

Article V and a Balanced Budget Amendment 

Congresswoman Yvette Herrell (NM)