I'm writing in response to Marc Kovac's recent opinion piece "Capital News: 'Wondering what's next for Josh Mandel" in which he examines some of the spin which partisan political types are using to falsely claim that I'm not focused on my job as State Treasurer. The facts tell a different story.
When I came into the Treasurer's office in 2011, Ohio's financial ranking was 43rd in the country. Today, just three and a half years later, Ohio's financial ranking is 7th in the country. Among the two organizations that ranked the fiscal conditions of the states, Ohio achieved the largest improvement of any state in the nation.
When I was sworn in, Ohio faced an $8 billion budget hole, and today we have an approximately $1 billion surplus. When my administration entered the Treasurer's office, Ohio had just 89 cents in the Rainy Day Fund, and today our Rainy Day Fund is approximately $1.5 billion. These financial results have been a team effort among the governor, legislature, myself and other state leaders.
In the midst of the European Sovereign Debt Crisis, and while 14 other state and local government investment funds were downgraded by Standard & Poor's rating agency, we earned a AAA rating in the Ohio Treasurer's office. This AAA rating is the highest possible rating for the multibillion-dollar investment fund we manage on behalf of cities, schools and communities throughout Ohio.
Additionally, my office has earned the first ratings upgrade in nearly a decade for the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund. This financial report card improvement is important because it illustrates to the marketplace the responsible financial management in the Ohio Treasurer's office.
In the Treasurer's office, we recognize that families and senior citizens on fixed incomes are struggling throughout the state, so we've tightened our belts as well. We've voluntarily cut the office budget three years in a row, saving you as taxpayers over $4.7 million.
We reduced staff from 140 budgeted positions when I came into office, to 117 people today. We also identified more targeted ways to cut expenses, including selling state cars, turning off under-used phone and fax lines, and ending wasteful spending on items like plant watering contracts and taxpayer-funded promotional gimmicks like water bottles and piggy banks.
I've also helped lead the charge for improving government transparency and empowering citizens to see how your tax dollars are being spent. I launched the Treasurer's Transparency Project, which began by putting my salary and the salaries of all state government and school employees on the Internet so you can see how your money is being spent in the form of salaries.
Now, I'm leading the charge to put Ohio's entire checkbook online so you can see every expenditure in state government. I'm doing this because I believe government works best when the citizens have the power to be taxpayer watchdogs and keep an eye out for waste, fraud and abuse. Along those lines, my vision is to create an army of citizen auditors to enable you to hold public officials accountable for their decisions.
In my time in the State Treasurer's office we've set an example for fiscal responsibility and transparency and have been laser-beam focused on thoughtfully collecting, protecting and investing your hard-earned dollars. I am very proud of the record of results we have been able to achieve on behalf of my 11.5 million bosses throughout Ohio, and I encourage you to call me at 1-800-228-1102 or visit www.OhioTreasurer.gov to hold me accountable and have your voice heard.
Josh Mandel is Treasurer of Ohio.