Newsbriefs You May Have Missed: 10. State Government Reform. The one percent solution.

10: State Government Reforms, and Pennsylvania Takes the Lead

In a highly informative article by Jan Murphy of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, we learned today that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives plans to reduce government spending by making deep cuts in their own benefits package.  State House leaders have agreed to: require receipts for lodging and meal expenses, move to a mileage reimbursement system—eliminating state provided cars, and have house members and staff contribute 1 percent to the price of their health benefits. 

Harold Bloom, spokesperson for the house members, called the 1 percent contribution a stunning example of members putting “their money where their mouths are.”  “We wrestled with the percentage, but in the end decided on 1 percent as it would allow the members to estimate their monthly contribution, without the need for higher mathematical skills—like multiplication.  We had a math consultant come and explain the process to us, in a two day workshop in Maui.” “It’s amazing,” he continued.  Say a house member’s monthly health insurance bill is $654.00. In mathematical parlance, we say that there are two places to the right of the decimal point, and three to the left.” “To calculate the contribution, you simply move the decimal point two places to the left, and your contribution is $6.54.” “We were told to ignore any numbers to the right of the 54, as dealing with that, the so-called round off problem, is well beyond the average member’s comprehension.”

House member, Doris Lessing, commenting on the legislation said, “It was only later that we found we could do the same sort of thing with 10%, by moving the decimal point only one place to the left instead of two.”  “While this information arrived too late to influence contributions to our health plan, Ms. Lessing continued, “it will certainly change the amount many of us leave as a tip.”

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