(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced that efforts to collect debts owed to Ohio state government offices have resulted in more than $1.3 billion recovered from 2011 to 2013. The amount recovered represents the first time an Ohio Attorney General has recovered more than $1 billion for the taxpayer funded agencies in the first three years of his or her term.
“The data shows a positive trend in that the Attorney General’s Office is collecting debt payments at a higher rate than both before and during the Great Recession,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “These efforts by Attorney General’s Office help reduce strain on our state’s budget and taxpayer funds.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office serves as the collections agent for all state government entities and public colleges and universities. Entities who are owed unpaid financial obligations from debtors certify these debts to the Attorney General’s Office for collection. The Attorney General’s Office then works to obtain payment in full or set up a payment plan with the debtor.
Data from the Attorney General’s Collections Enforcement Section shows that the Office collected $448,673,741.53 in 2013; $453,868,741.46 in 2012; and $460,943,894.12 in 2011. Each of those years’ collections was higher than any single year from between 2005 and 2010, the period for which data was readily available.
The collections rates are notable increases given that state agencies are certifying fewer debts for collection by the Attorney General. Certifications were between approximately $4 billion and $4.5 billion annually between 2005 and 2009. Certifications increased to more than $5 billion each year between 2009 and 2011, the height of the Great Recession. As the economy has improved, outstanding debt certifications have fallen below $5 billion annually in 2012 and 2013.
“Fewer debts certified mean fewer bills to the state being unpaid, and that is a good thing,” DeWine said. “At the same time, the Attorney General’s Office is collecting both a greater percentage of debts and a greater total number of dollars than previous multi-year periods, and that is also good news for Ohio taxpayers. Ohio taxpayers who play by the rules expect others to do the same”
Attorney General DeWine has made many efforts to strengthen state collection efforts, including increased coordination with other state agencies in areas such as smoking fine collections and findings for recovery, where the Attorney General is the collector of last resort. Attorney General DeWine also launched his Local Government Debt Collection Program in 2012, which allows local government offices such as clerks of courts to enter into agreements to have the Attorney General collect certain debts on their behalf.
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840