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2/21/2017

Treasurer's Office Responds to Misleading Dayton Daily News Article on New Investment Option for Ohioans with Special Needs

Press Release - Ohio Treasurer's Office

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Treasurer's office, in response to a recent misleading Dayton Daily News article on a new investment option for Ohioans with disabilities, released today information designed to shed light on this important new initiative. 

Launched in June 2016, Ohio became the first state in the country to offer enrollment in STABLE Accounts for eligible individuals living with disabilities.

"As Treasurer of Ohio I am proud to serve as administrator of STABLE Accounts," said Treasurer Mandel.  "By assisting individuals and families with saving and investing, we are supporting persons with disabilities to maintain health, independence and quality of life."
 
STABLE Accounts in Ohio

On February 17th, the Dayton Daily News published an article about STABLE Accounts, which is misleading and unfortunately omits important information. The article attempts to politicize a transformative investment option for people with special needs that is not political at all.

In this article, the Dayton Daily News mischaracterizes the Treasurer's use of public service announcements in promoting this investment plan for individuals with special needs. It fails to mention: (1) promotion was required by the state legislature, (2) the Treasurer's office was transparent from the start, (3) STABLE Accounts are only helpful for individuals with special needs and their families if Ohioans know about it, (4) the STABLE Account PSA proved to be effective and (5) it's common for Ohio officials to appear in PSAs.

Here are the facts:
 
1. Promotion was required by the state legislature.
  • Ohio's legislation requires the Treasurer's Office to create materials to promote and market STABLE Accounts.  ORC 113.51(A)(6) states that the Treasurer must "Develop marketing plans and promotional materials to publicize the program." 
  • In 2015, House Bill 155 passed unanimously with bipartisan support in both the Ohio House (96-0) and Ohio Senate (32-0), with every Democrat and every Republican in the Ohio legislature supporting the bill.
  • House Bill 64 (Smith, R.), the Fiscal Year 2016 and 2017 state operating budget, appropriated $2 million to the Treasurer's office for each fiscal year for the implementation, administration and promotion of STABLE Accounts.  Governor Kasich signed this bill into law on July 16, 2015.
2.  The Treasurer's office was transparent from the start.  
  • With transparency in mind, the Treasurer's office held a press conference on June 13, 2016 to announce the STABLE Account multi-media awareness and outreach effort.  All members of the Statehouse Press Corps were invited and Treasurer Mandel unveiled the PSA for the first time. 
  • Detailed information was provided to reporters in attendance and specific cost breakdowns were made available.  Numerous news organizations ran stories on this announcement on that day.  The Dayton Daily News did not show up for that press conference.
  • You may find the press release on this announcement, from June 13, 2016, here: http://ohiotreasurer.gov/News/8615
3.  Stable Accounts are only helpful for individuals with special needs and their families if Ohioans know about it.
  • Knowing this, the Ohio Legislature required that the Treasurer's office promote STABLE Accounts as a part of the $2 million it appropriated in support of the plan.
  • Nearly everyone knows someone who lives with a disability and by increasing awareness amongst all Ohioans, this important message can be spread far and wide.
  • Ohio was the first state to launch these accounts and is a national leader in this space.
4.  The STABLE PSA's proved to be effective.
  • The Treasurer's office was intentional in its consideration of who would appear in the PSA.
    • Anne Gerhardt is an 18-year-old with Down syndrome who lives in Cincinnati.  Her father, Chip, was a leading advocate for the passage of the federal legislation allowing for these accounts.
    • Urban Meyer is a well-known and respected individual throughout all of Ohio who was willing to lend his voice in support of this important initiative.
    • Treasurer Mandel and his office are responsible for the administration of the plan. As administrator, Treasurer Mandel offers credibility, security and accountability in a space ripe with financial fraud - especially to those who are most vulnerable amongst us.
  • As of 2/14, there have been approximately 2,250 individuals who have signed up for STABLE Accounts.  Across the country, a total of 16 states have launched a similar plan and STABLE Accounts make up approximately 50 percent of those accounts - the clear leader in market share.
  • When PSA's were airing, web traffic was up 230%.
5.  It is common for Ohio officials to appear in PSA's.

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