With bills to reduce the size of the House and Senate – or to do away with one body of the Legislature alltogether – apparently going nowhere, legislative leadership has come up with the next best thing.

While not reducing the number of senators or representatives, they have proposed cutting the amount of money used to support their work by $8.3 million over the next two years.

While we would have preferred letting the voters decide if they wanted to amend the constitution and change the size if not the structure of the Legislature, this addresses at least one of the concerns we have about the current configuration. (The other, a slow and confusing process created by too many bills, will have to be fixed some other way.)

It is time that the Legislature stepped up and absorbed some of the pain its members have been dealing out to every other program that relies on state support. The Legislative Council, made up of leaders from both parties, deserves credit for coming up with this package of cuts, which shows that a commitment to stingy spending includes them as well.

We wish, however, that they could have gone a little further and not picked this tough budget year as a time to beef up State House security, which will cost $546,000 over the next two years.

Lawmakers have concerns about their safety, but there has been no evidence made public that suggests things have gotten more dangerous lately. The conversation about State House security started after a man with apparent mental illness fired on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, seriously wounding her and killing six others in Tucson, Ariz.

While that attack was horrifying, it can hardly be seen as an example of escalating political violence that would prompt lawmakers as far away as Maine to erect police barriers around the place in which they do the people’s work. Lawmakers don’t need to wait for a violent incident to occur before taking reasonable precautions, but they should have to show why this spending is needed now, at a time when the state does not have enough money to maintain other services.

Still, the legislative budget, with its nearly unanimous support on the 10-member Legislative Council, is a step in the right direction. It bodes well for the much more complex deliberations concerning the proposed $6 billion state budget that are now under way in Augusta.