LIMA — A new initiative pushed by Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague looks to use financial tools to encourage investment into new solutions for long-standing social issues, such as Ohio’s opioid crisis and the need for workforce training.
Known as the ResultsOHIO, the program would encourage innovation by offering to pay funds to private programs that are able to prove their results through a third-party.
Sprague explained the move as a way to flip the script on the operations of government agencies, which often receive funds first and prove results later. By relying on private entities to prove results first, Sprague said Ohio would effectively be funding solutions instead of investing taxpayer dollars into untried processes.
“You wouldn’t think the treasurer’s office would play a role in this, but we think this ResultsOHIO fund — a very sophisticated financial product — can make a tremendous difference in actually scaling and creating new programs that will solve these difficult problems,” Sprague said.
One such social problem that could benefit from such a program, Sprague said, is the state’s opioid crisis. If a private entity or nonprofit had a way to increase the recovery rate of those addicted by a significant amount, the state would reimburse private investors depending on the prior contract made with the state.
“(Private investment) is great at standing up new programs. They have problems with sustaining funding into the long term. The state is exactly the opposite. We tend to have trouble standing up innovative programs because we have a lot of rules that come along with our funding, but once things work, we’re great at sustained funding,” Sprague said.
As for how to decide which issues the program could be used for, Sprague said the governor would identify issue solutions in need of innovation. Capital would then be allocated by Ohio’s General Assembly to a fund administered by Ohio’s treasurer. Private entities could then contract with the state, and if the proposed program is deemed successful using stated goals and metrics, Ohio would pay that private entity public dollars for its success in helping with that issue.
A handful of public policy problems that could potentially benefit from ResultsOHIO include infant mortality, water quality, long-term care, early childhood education preparedness and workforce training.
“This takes all the guesswork out; either the program works or it doesn’t. Everybody agrees on the metrics upfront,” Sprague said. “The state is willing to not only save people’s lives through this program, but at the end of the day, it’s going to save the state a lot of money.”
State Sen. Steve Wilson, R-Maineville, and Rep. Don Manning, R-New Middletown, are expected to introduce the legislation for the program.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.