'5 Questions With' Robert Sprague, Ohio Treasurer of State
1. Your career in public service began at the local level and now your Ohio’s 49th Treasurer of State. How would you describe your journey?
Actually, it all started with my time in the private sector. After receiving a Master’s in Business Administration, I worked as a project lead with Ernst & Young before forming my own consulting firm. There’s really no substitute for the life lessons and expertise one earns in the private sector, and I wanted to use that business and financial experience in a way that would help my hometown of Findlay. Since then, I’ve had the honor of serving as city auditor and treasurer, state representative, and currently Ohio Treasurer – which allows me to work on behalf of all Ohioans.
2. Being almost three years into your first term as Treasurer, what do you consider some of your top accomplishments?
Everything we’ve accomplished thus far has been rooted in our promise to be trusted stewards and bold innovators who are committed to improving people’s lives. That thought is at the heart of our ResultsOHIO pay-for-success initiative which aims to address public sector challenges by tapping into innovative private sector solutions. We recently received legislative approval and funding for the first ResultsOHIO project, which is focused on increasing vision services to students across Ohio’s 32-county Appalachian region.
Two additional accomplishments our office is quite proud of include our work to re-imagine and preserve OhioCheckbook.gov in a way that saves money while also ensuring government transparency remains at taxpayers’ fingertips for years to come, and our advocacy last fall to establish a small business grant program to support job creators who were negatively impacted by COVID-19.
3. Last year also saw you garner legislative approval for your Family Forward initiative. Has a launch date been established for that program?
We plan to launch Family Forward later this year in conjunction with National Adoption Month. We’re excited about this new program that will provide reduced interest loans to families navigating the adoption process. By chipping away at the financial barriers that often inhibit the adoption process, the Treasurer’s office can help more families across Ohio take shape.
4. The STABLE Account program is administered through your office, and it’s recently seen a great deal of growth. What do you attribute that success to?
We’re very proud of our success in this space. STABLE accounts are 529-like specialized savings and investment accounts for individuals living with disabilities, and these innovative financial tools are changing people’s lives and providing them with greater independence and security. Since the start of 2019, we’ve seen the program grow from fewer than 10,000 accounts to the nearly 25,000 active accounts there are today. Much of this growth can be attributed to our enhanced outreach strategies and recent partnerships with private and public sector employers to establish direct deposit options for qualified employees.
5. What’s among your top priorities for the remainder of your time as Ohio Treasurer?
I can go on for days with this answer, but I’ll mention just one top priority for now – our local governments. The Treasurer’s office works very closely with local government officials across Ohio, and we’re always identifying new ways to serve them. In fact, last year we launched six regional advisory boards composed of local officials, who are helping us develop policy solutions and informing us directly about the challenges they face at the local level. By supporting our local governments, we’re helping them to better serve their residents and strengthen their communities – and that’s good for all of Ohio.