Making Democracy Work

Responses to Questions - Treasurer

CANDIDATE ROB RICHARDSON

Responses are printed exactly as received

Candidate: ROB RICHARDSON

Political Party: Democrat
Website: http://www.robforohio.com
Occupation: Attorney
Education: Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering, University of Cincinnati Juris Doctor, UC Law

Training and Experience:
I believe my most relevant experience is my nine years on the University of Cincinnati's Board of Trustees, where I capped my tenure as Chair. Over that time we experienced record financial growth and enrollment.

What are the most important functions of the state treasurer and why?
The state treasurer is essentially the state's banker, responsible for overseeing all financial transactions of the state government. In 2017 the Treasurer's office managed more than $224 billion in financial assets, including more than $21.5 billion in state investments. This has tremendous influence on the economy and overall health of Ohio, and it affects everyone regardless of political affiliation. These are essential, baseline functions the treasurer must perform to maintain stability, but I believe the state treasurer can do more than just the bare minimum. As treasurer, I plan to enact policies that hold the powerful accountable and expand opportunities for all Ohioans.

What recommendations do you have to improve operations in the treasurer's office?
Given the importance of the treasurer's role to our state's economic well-being, it's crucial to maintain an office that runs as efficiently as possible. While I don't necessarily foresee any major overhauls to the office's operations, I want to stress that I will only be hire staff of the highest caliber who have gone through a strict vetting process. If any area of the office is performing in a substandard manner I will immediately work to see that the issue is corrected.

How can the treasurer's office influence state fiscal policy?
Contrary to popular belief, the treasurer does not create or control the state's budget. As treasurer I wouldn't have discretion over state spending and couldn't affect taxes. However, I would administer the State Treasury Asset Reserve of Ohio (STAR Ohio), an investment fund that allows government subdivisions--from municipalities to school districts--to invest funds in a highly rated public investment pool. STAR Ohio has a AAA S&P rating and a record of high returns, and if elected I will encourage counties, schools, municipalities, et. al. to invest. As treasurer, I would also appoint members to Ohio's public pension boards. Anyone I appoint to a pension board will share my values of responsible investment, push for investing in entities that bring more jobs to Ohio, and work to divest from companies that actively harm Ohioans--e.g. private, for-profit prisons.

How will you ensure transparency and accountability in state finances?
While I'm no fan of current Treasurer Josh Mandel, I do think his Checkbook has potential for reigning in excessive or questionable spending by state and local governments. That being said, I believe we need to focus less on how school districts spend their money and more on how much we as a state invest in entities like private prisons and large drug corporations. Months ago I wrote a letter to Treasurer Mandel, asking him to conduct a fiscal impact study on the criminal justice system. I've not received a response of any kind, but if I'm elected to the treasurer's office I promise to do so. My plan is to expand the Checkbook into a Taxpayer's Right to Know Report Card--that way taxpayers will have a clear view of where their money is going.

How will you ensure that the office is run in an ethical manner?
I believe in leading with one's values, and if elected treasurer I will hold that same standard to anyone working in the office. As mentioned, I believe the treasurer's office can do more for everyday Ohioans than the simple, baseline requirements of the job. As a public servant, my commitment to the public comes before all else. This means I won't do business with or invest in companies whose practices harm the people of Ohio, such as private prisons or for-profit charter schools. I expect my employees to share my values and act with integrity at all times. Anything less will not be tolerated.



CANDIDATE ROBERT SPRAGUE

Responses are printed exactly as received

Candidate: ROBERT SPRAGUE

Political Party: Republican
Website: http://spragueforohio.com
Occupation: State Representive
Education: Duke University, BSA Mechanical Engineering MBA University of North Carolina, emphasis in finance

Training and Experience:
State Representative - appointed 2011, elected 2012, 2014 and 2016 Auditor, City of Findlay - elected 2008 Treasurer, City of Findlay - elected 2004 Principal, Vasa Capital, Findlay Ohio 2005 Owner, Talus Technology, Atlanta GA 1998 Ernst and Young

What are the most important functions of the state treasurer and why?
The Treasurer's power to issue debt is extremely important because it is the intersection between private capital markets and the government. I have a plan to unlock creativity in the private market to help fight the opiate epidemic, infant mortality and other societal ills through the standardization of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). SIBs foster partnerships between the public and private sectors, where the private market develops new programs, but the public sector only pays if the new programs can be proven to deliver results. This innovative financial tool will bring the private sector to the table in a meaningful way and introduce a new funding stream to the effort to tackle Ohio's most pressing problems. I encourage readers to visit SpragueForOhio.com/vision to find a more detailed overview of how I plan to use the Treasurer's office to make a positive and meaningful difference in the lives of Ohioans.

What recommendations do you have to improve operations in the treasurer's office?
As an international business consultant for Ernst & Young, I was trained to evaluate companies' operations, find efficiencies and improve their internal processes. Once I am elected, I plan to use this experience to do an in-depth evaluation of the office and the programs the Treasurer manages to ensure we are achieving the highest quality outcomes at the most effective cost for taxpayers. Ohio's Online Checkbook and STABLE Account Program are two areas where I believe we can achieve greater fiscal efficiencies and drive down administrative costs by actively working to expand participation in the programs to individuals and entities both in and out of state. As Treasurer, I will also use the knowledge gained in both the private sector and as a member of the Ohio House Finance Committee to keep our office operating costs in-check through regular internal budget evaluations.

How can the treasurer's office influence state fiscal policy?
As a member of the House Finance Committee during the last three state budget negotiations, I have a keen understanding of state fiscal policy and the often difficult financial decisions we face. As Treasurer, I believe that I can have an impact by promoting innovative financial tools designed to deliver cost savings. For example, applying the Social Impact Bonds model described above to the heroin epidemic would mean investments in programs that produce better recovery rates than the programs the state is currently funding. Increasing our recovery rates means healthier Ohioans and could in turn help reduce spending for Medicaid, Child & Protective Services and Corrections, all areas that have been put under increasing pressure as a result of this crisis. By forming strategic partnerships with the private sector, we can improve government efficiency from the outside in and have a lasting, positive effect on how we approach state fiscal policy.

How will you ensure transparency and accountability in state finances?
I believe increased transparency leads to greater accountability, which is why I created an annual financial report as Auditor of Findlay to help people better understand the City finances. I applaud Treasurer Josh Mandel for taking the first step in giving the public access to how their tax dollars are spent through the creation of Ohio's Online Checkbook. I plan to take this tool to the next level by further expanding the scope and capabilities of the program - creating a SMART Online Checkbook. Drawing upon my private sector experience as a business and financial consultant, I'll empower taxpayers to use the data to benchmark spending, make comparisons across agencies and better identify government efficiencies (or inefficiencies). Furthermore, I will work to increase participation in the program so that all Ohioans have a window into spending at every level of government.

How will you ensure that the office is run in an ethical manner?
I am committed to executing my responsibilities as Treasurer of State with integrity and will expect the same of my staff and all those who interact with the office. I believe that having a leader at the helm with financial experience further helps to ensure the office is run in an ethical manner. As Treasurer, you're overseeing billions of taxpayer dollars. This is an incredible responsibility and that's why it's critical that the individual filling this role has a firm understanding of not only the duties of the Treasurer but of those who work in and with the office as well. I earned my MBA with an emphasis in finance, worked in the private sector advising companies worldwide on complex financial matters and gained valuable public sector finance experience as City Auditor, Treasurer, and State Representative. I will bring to the Treasurer's Office an unparalleled level of professional competence born in part from these experiences and will serve with the integrity Ohioans deserve.