The Globe Interview: Andy Matthews, Candidate for State Controller
Matthews: ‘I am running for Controller to bring transparency to government’
By Megan Barth, November 2, 2022 11:15 am
Andy Matthews, GOP candidate for Nevada Controller, was first elected to office in 2020 and represented Assembly District 37 by beating Democrat Shea Backus by two points. Matthews told The Globe, “it was the closest assembly race in the entire state. I was one of three assembly seats that flipped.”
Matthews is hoping to flip a seat again as Democrats dominate the executive branch. Matthews has a reputation as an advocate for government transparency and fiscal discipline. Running for state Controller, Matthews highlighted his goals through a self-deprecating campaign advertisement he filmed at a barbershop, poking fun at his baldness.
“I hate it when people waste money, really hate it,” he said while putting down a can of hairspray. “I’ll comb through every penny because the one thing I know is it’s time for a haircut in Carson City.”
His proudest moments as an Assemblyman was a number of bills he produced that would have increased government transparency and increased penalties on officials who failed to comply with open records law.
Matthews told The Globe: .
“I am believer in open, accountable, and transparent government. Currently the laws are pretty good in terms of mandating compliance and transparency, but is is unfortunate that the penalties are not that strong. So my bill would have tripled the penalties. We did get a hearing, and we had bipartisan support, but, unfortunately, the bill did not receive a vote and was not brought up in the committee.
I was very disappointed to see that happen, but I was encouraged and proud to start a very important dialogue on a critical issue. I hope others will continue to take up that cause in the legislature.
That is why I am running for Controller. I will bring this transparency to government.”
Matthews explained that the Controller operates independently of the Treasurer’s office in that the Controller is generally considered the chief fiscal officer of the state. The responsibilities of the office are administering the accounting system, processing transactions, managing the states check book, and collecting debts. “When you have two offices handling the states money, you have checks and balances,” Matthews told The Globe.
Matthews noted, “The Controller is on the processing side and not involved in decision making. We don’t decide how funds are spent unless the law earmarks the funds for a specific purpose. We can make recommendations and we talk to lawmakers–the Governor and the Legislators–and we often go before the legislature. We can urge lawmakers to choose a different course if what we are doing isn’t working. The Controller should shed light on what is happening to tax payers money.”
Matthews provided three steps in his plan to shed light on current and proposed spending.
Step One: “We need to upgrade the dissemination and sharing of information. I think Nevada needs to greatly improve the information that is available online with regards to government spending. The information that is provided is now in a different place, isn’t detailed, and hard to digest. I want to start by working to reform the way in which the state provides information online on how and where the state government spends money.”
Step Two: “I want to bring back Ron Knecht’s publication, an annual report on state spending. The report provided context–current spending to past spending. The annual report provided information on what we, the taxpayers, are getting as a return on the investment. For example, the report would tell us K-12 per pupil spending and student achievement at that time. As we have increased spending, what are the tax payers getting? Ron’s successor has not done that. The report deserves to be brought back. I will reinstitute the Annual Controller’s report.”
Step Three: “The federal pandemic relief money that is coming into state and local coffers from the American Rescue Plan. My understanding is that Nevada received $6 billion. I don’t think people have a good handle on what is happening with that money. I think providing them with this information is very important.”
As Matthews was waiting to board a flight and head to a campaign stop in Las Vegas, he closed the interview with this statement:
“It is in the nature of government to be wasteful. There is a lack of incentive for discipline when you are spending other peoples money. Inherently, we see that in government as it is not a frugal entity. I don’t think we should accept that and we should demand it, especially in these times of skyrocketing inflation. The cost of everyday goods are going up. The information that needs to be out there will be out there, and it will be up to others to correct the waste. We can expose waste, and that is where the Controller’s office can play a unique roll. Nevadans have to watch their budget and be tight with their finances, it is imperative for them to know the government is doing the same.”
Editors note: A previous version of this interview included “the inflation that needs to be out there.” The line should have read, “the information that needs to be out there” and has been corrected. We regret the error.