October 24, 2017


A Republican state treasurer candidate for 2018 met with fellow GOP members during a fundraising event Monday night in Defiance.

Ohio 82nd House District Rep. Craig Riedel of Defiance also formerly announced his candidacy for a vacant Ohio Senate seat during the event held for his benefit at the Second Story at 210 Clinton St. in downtown Defiance.

Ohio 83 House District Rep. Robert Sprague of Findlay — the only declared Republican candidate presently for the state treasurer’s job in 2018 — also spoke. The incumbent — Republican Josh Mandel — has announced he plans to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown for a U.S. Senate seat next year.

“We think we’ve got a great ticket and a great message to talk about how we can improve some financial concepts, people with developmental disabilities working out in the community,” said Sprague — a Duke University graduate, former auditor and treasurer for the city of Findlay, and former Ernst and Young employee — during an interview before speaking to Republicans Monday. “I think we can bring to bear new financial concepts that’s going to help with our heroin treatment — improve our heroin treatment — across the state with innovative financial products. We’ve got a lot of good messages to share.”

Among his plans is trying to strengthen “our national security” by having the state invest in Israel, “our greatest ally on the war on terror.”

And he wants “to try to help young people with some financial literacy when they are in high school so that they don’t make decisions that lead to a crippling amount of student loan debt.”

Of Mandel, Sprague said: “He’s done a great job. We’re going to build on what he’s done with the transparency, the open checkbook … to make it not just the transparent checkbook, but also a smart checkbook.”

The comment refers to the program initiated under Mandel’s watch in which various governments’ financial transactions are placed online.

During a brief speech Monday, Sprague elaborated on his message for managing the heroin crisis, proposing a pilot program for a “social impact bond.” He noted that at present Ohio’s heroin recovery rate is just 11 percent, which “if we were producing steel, we’d be out of business the next day.”

“How do you get out of this epidemic if you can’t get people into recovery, if — in terms of long-term recovery — you can’t get them better?” he asked. “And why are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars on treatment and wasting it on treatment that doesn’t work? One of the things I want to do in the treasurer’s office is bring to bear an interesting financial concept called a social impact bond.”

He explained that “this is where you take the money from the private sector — say like $1 million — and you put up a bond that says we’re going to try a new way to treat heroin addiction in the state of Ohio, and we run a two-year pilot program and at the end of the two-year pilot program we see what the results are. We measure the results, and let’s say they get a 35 percent recovery rate instead of an 11 percent recovery rate. Guess what? The state of Ohio will come in and we’ll buy back that bond … .”

If the program proves successful, “as fiscal conservatives we’re only paying for the treatment that actually works, and if it works better than what we already have we’re saving money in the state, we’re saving money on the Medicaid system, we’re saving money on the criminal justice system, and at the end of the day everybody is a winner because there’s more people in recovery and there’s not as much demand for that evil sinister heroin that they’re bringing into our neighborhoods.”

Todd Helberg, The Crescent-News

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