Stephen Skinner, a Shepherdstown area resident, was elected in 2012 to represent the 67th District in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Skinner, a member of the Charles Town-based Skinner Law Firm, has also served on the Shepherd University Foundation for more than five years and considers the University to be a major focus of his work in Charleston.
Skinner, who replaced longtime delegate John Doyle upon his retirement, described the wellbeing of Shepherd as “one of [his] top priorities” in Charleston. When working on legislation, he often “thinks about [Shepherd’s] needs.” As Shepherd University continues to bleed money and watch enrollment numbers drop, Skinner’s interview with The Picket quickly shifted to what the state can do to aid the school.
According to West Virginia’s Office of the Budget, as of Aug. 31, the total balance of the state rainy day fund is approximately $845 million. The rainy day fund serves as a cushion of money should state revenues not cover expenses. West Virginia has cut money given to higher education facilities, like Shepherd, yet it continues to pad the rainy day fund. Skinner did indicate that in the case of higher education, “it may be raining.” He also expressed concern that education as whole may be carrying a burden in the state that is larger than it should handle.
Skinner referenced a study commissioned by the state which assessed the performance and infrastructure at public colleges and universities, and indicated that some schools may be beyond aid. He pointed to West Virginia Tech and the anticipated $100 million price tag to bring it up to speed as an example of a school which may need to cease receiving state aid so that those resources can be given to other schools who are showing stronger results, like Shepherd. He boiled it down to: “Is money being spent wisely?”
As improvements relate to Shepherd, Skinner highlighted a parking garage as his “number one issue.” He believes parking is an issue at the university and often hears from students and constituents of its need. When asked if many students contact him, Skinner indicated they do on occasion. He also specified that while students are living on campus, he is their direct line to Charleston.
Skinner will be hosting a Town Hall meeting in Shepherdstown before the end of the year and would “love to see students attend.”
Skinner is a graduate of West Virginia University’s School of Law and is a partner in the Skinner Law Firm. His father, uncle, and grandfather all served terms as the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney. Students with concerns about state government issues that fall under the House of Delegates can reach Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.