Borrowing costs

Ohio Gains to lower borrowing costs for farmers, hospitals and colleges

Ohio farmers, hospitals and public universities will benefit from lower borrowing costs under “Ohio Gains,” a new program unveiled Wednesday by state treasurer Robert Sprague.

The program is threefold:

  • modernize the long-standing Ag-LINK program to make agricultural cooperatives eligible and remove borrowing limits.
  • allow the Treasury to act as a buyer of last resort for large hospitals that use a debt instrument called a “floating rate demand bond”.
  • let public four-year universities borrow from their public share of education funding when the debt is issued to the public treasury

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Sprague said Ohio Gains will leverage the state’s strong liquidity position — $10 billion of the state treasury’s $20 billion — to help farmers, hospitals and universities.

“At the end of the day, we want to make their borrowings as efficient as possible,” Sprague said.

Ohio Gains would remove the $150,000 borrowing cap and allow agricultural cooperatives to be eligible for Ag-LINK, a longstanding program that extends lower borrowing rates to farmers.

Sprague also said allowing Ohio’s 14 public universities to count their share of state teaching revenue would improve their credit ratings, making borrowing more attractive and cheaper.

The program will require legislative changes. State Representatives DJ Swearingen, R-Huron and Andrea White, R-Kettering, and State Sens. Michael Rulli, R-Salem and Jerry Cirino, R-Kirkland, are expected to introduce the necessary legislation this week.

Sprague is a Findlay Republican and former state legislator. He was elected state treasurer in 2018.

Laura Bischoff is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliate news organizations in Ohio.