NAME: Matt Spurlock
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia House of Delegates 16th District (parts of Cabell and Lincoln counties)
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
PERSONAL STATEMENT: West Virginia is my home. I enjoy the beauty of our land and appreciate the kindness we show one another. Time and time again we have answered the calls to our nation’s needs. It is time we address our own needs. Now is time we use our rugged, determined spirit to make West Virginia a place our family and friends can call home again.
EDUCATION: 1991 Graduate Point Pleasant High School; 1996 Graduate Marshall University BBA Finance; Current Office or Occupation: Accountant, River Valley Associates.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: South Side Neighborhood Organization, Vice President; Create Huntington, Treasurer; United Way of the River Cities, Ambassador & Volunteer Tax Preparer; Generation Huntington; Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce.
1. Are you satisfied with how the state legislature has addressed developing and balancing the state budget? Please explain.
Our budget has been used as an ineffective economic development tool. Changes to our tax structure to encourage growth contributed to the deficits of the past two years and have done little to increase workforce participation. It is due to the upswing of our natural resource markets that a budget passed on time this year.
2. What new or additional measures are necessary to create a safe and healthy environment for all West Virginians?
Address our infrastructure to enhance industry to improve job markets. Look at how we are protecting and using our natural resources, protecting our water supply, and ensuring our citizens have access to affordable healthcare. We must do all we can to address the opioid epidemic. Enhancing our job market and affordable education are a good start toward this end.
3. What do you think the role of the legislature should be in developing a more diversified economy in the state?
Providing affordable higher education and infrastructure for a 21st Century economy while supporting the economic development goals of our counties and municipalities will enhance entrepreneurship, small business development, and attract new industry to diversify our economy.
4. What measures could help prevent gun violence and mass shootings?
It is a sad commentary on our society that mass shootings are becoming the norm and our schools are becoming like prisons. Initiatives that train and mobilize adults and youth to identify at-risk behavior and to intervene may prevent gun violence before it occurs in our schools.
5. With the increased incidence of black lung disease in recent years, does more need to be done to protect miners’ health and safety?
Our people are our greatest resource. We need to ensure workplace safety as well as affordable healthcare for our workers.
6. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
We need to make sure there are options for training that are affordable and relevant to the needs of our industries.
7. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see as the role of the legislature in addressing this crisis?
Focus on outcomes oriented treatment options, education, and have jobs for the recovered. Drug court is efficient at helping an addicted person return to being a productive member of society. Keeping an addict in jail is expensive and may not be most effective. Criminalizing makes it harder to become productive members once treatment is completed.
8. What should be done long-term to fix PEIA health insurance for state employees?
Secure a reliable funding source. Provide discounts through voluntary programs, and address the high costs of health care.
9. What measures do you support on fracking/horizontal drilling that would protect people living near drilling sites?
Support laws that protect home owners’ rights to live peacefully and safely within their own land.
10. What can the state government do to improve educational achievement in West Virginia?
Education should be a priority and our education professionals should be treated with respect, supported and paid equitably. Our students should be provided with resources necessary for proper learning. Higher education should be affordable for all West Virginians.
11. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
It is my opinion that delivery of broadband internet to every household in West Virginia is the most economical and effective infrastructure improvement we can make. I am encouraged by Federal funds that are headed our way and will work with our Federal delegation to increase funding.
12. How can WV benefit from the natural gas industry without leaving a legacy of environmental damage, health problems and decreased property values?
We are rich in natural resources yet one of the poorest states in the country. “Natural Gas is West Virginia” is quickly becoming our new mantra. We need to make sure we receive proper revenues from our resources that are purchased from other states and countries while protecting the property rights, health and well-being of our residents.
13. Where do you think the responsibility for setting educational standard lies (e.,g., state or county)? Please explain.
Our educators, in collaboration with state and county officials, should be involved in setting state-wide education standards. Reducing the amount of bureaucracy in the classroom would lead to a more favorable learning environment.
14. What kinds of assistance from the state would you support to address the shortage of decent, affordable rental housing in WV?
As a former property manager, I had a difficult time filling vacant subsidized apartments in rural areas and experienced little oversight in non-subsidized housing. The need for safe, affordable non-subsidized housing could be alleviated by better access to capital for new construction through a newly chartered state-run bank.