The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu once mused, "A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step."
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week began what, if successful, will be a long and laborious process of shrinking the size of the state's bloated General Assembly.
But at least the legislators took the first step.
Spurred by public outrage over the 2005 pay raise controversy and the more recent Bonusgate scandal, the 203-member House voted 140-49 to cull its own ranks by 50 and cut the Senate from 50 to 38.
All of York County's delegation supported the reduction.
Good for them.
It needs to be done.
Pennsylvania is the sixth-largest state, but has the second-largest Legislature, with the largest legislative staff. The staff alone costs taxpayers an estimated $100 million annually.
The Legislature is "irretrievably broken and in desperate need of systemic change," according to the grand jury that investigated the Bonusgate corruption scandal, which led to the 25 arrests, including high-ranking members from both parties.
The panel took the unusual step of issuing a supplemental report calling out the governing body.
One of its targets was the size of the 2,918-employee legislative staff. There's no accountability in the hiring process, according to the report, and former high-ranking members of both House caucuses estimated only 25 percent to 75 percent of those workers were actually needed.
In addition to the savings reaped by eliminating 62 legislators' $80,000 salaries, plus their staffs', proponents say a smaller body would be more efficient because there would be fewer people to slow down the process.
Critics caution that a smaller Legislature would negatively affect the representation of rural residents and would mean less one-on-one contact between constituents and representatives.
But state Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, rightly points out that lawmakers shouldn't have any trouble staying in touch using modern communication technologies.
Unfortunately, this isn't a quick or easy process.
Downsizing the state Legislature requires a constitutional amendment, meaning it has to pass both chambers in consecutive two-year sessions, plus receive the governor's approval each time.
After that, it's put to the voters as a referendum.
If it's successful, the reduction wouldn't take place until after the redistricting to follow the 2020 census.
This is going to take patience and determination.
The House took the first step; it's up to the Senate to take the next one.