By Rebecca Nutall
For the past six years, Pa. State House Rep. Matt Smith has served the 42nd legislative district of Allegheny County. Now the Bethel Park native finds himself in the middle of a contentious race for the State Senate where he will challenge Republican candidate D. Raja.
“I’ve always been a big believer in investments — strong strategic investments in education and infrastructure. And that’s where I think my opponent’s priorities differ,” Smith said.
Smith was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2006. Since that time, he has focused his efforts on accountability in state government, investments in education, and policies that create jobs.
One of Smith’s top priorities has been to increase funding for full day kindergarten, pre-K initiatives, and overall education funding. He is especially critical of diminished state funding for education, which has decreased from 50 percent to 30 percent under Gov. Tom Corbett.
“One of the unfortunate things that Governor Corbett has done is make the teachers and the school districts the enemy,” Smith said.
Smith played a key role in a bipartisan initiative to cut the state’s General Assembly budget by 20 percent. In fact his bipartisan efforts have earned him endorsements from several Republican elected officials.
“I think it’s reflective of the idea that people do want bipartisanship,” Smith said. “I’ve actually walked the walk about working across party lines.”
Smith is also a strong proponent for “green jobs” and sustainability. In 2008 he sponsored legislation to provide tax credits for green building and retrofitting and for high performance manufacturing and glass technologies.
“I think it will create jobs immediately. I think all of those things are going to not only create energy but also create jobs,” Smith said.
Ensuring minority participation in green jobs and other trade industries continues to be an issue for African-Americans. Smith said he is committed to ensuring the involvement of minority, women, and disadvantaged business enterprises.
“I’ve always been a big believer in ensuring MWDBE participation in state investment to ensure that there is equal opportunity in state investment,” Smith said.
Smith is the co-chair of the House Life Science Caucus and serves on the Tobacco Settlement Investment Board, House Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Appropriations, Finance and Insurance Committees. He also currently serves on the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta Board, Allegheny County Airport Authority and Senator John Heinz History Center Board of Trustees.
Smith is a graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and the Duquesne University School of Law. He currently lives in Mt. Lebanon with his wife Eileen, their two daughters, Delaney and Emerson, and their son Jameson.