You think the governor and legislature have a big job shepherding a $22 billion budget? The state treasurer is responsible for North Carolina’s $90 billion pension – roughly the 25thbiggest in the world. The treasurer also oversees the state health plan, which covers more than 700,000 current and former teachers and state employees. With both underfunded, the next treasurer faces a big job. Democrat Janet Cowell did not seek reelection.
Two capable candidates seek the office – Republican Dale Folwell and Democrat Dan Blue III. We recommend Folwell, whose background and talents more directly prepare him for the job, and whose vision for it is more on point.
Folwell says he grew up poor and worked his way through UNC Greensboro doing things such as collecting trash and repairing motorcycles. He worked for 13 years as an investment adviser at Merrill Lynch and Alex. Brown & Sons. After eight years on the Forsyth County school board, he served four terms in the N.C. House. He authored 29 bills that became law, despite being in the minority most of that time.
He took over the state Division of Employment Security in 2013, helping erase its debt and improve its service.
Folwell has enough investment experience to serve as treasurer. More importantly, he has an incisive mind, common sense, a hunger to learn and a vision for the job. Among the elements in that vision: Putting more of the pension fund’s money into index funds and cutting investment fees by at least $100 million in his first term. He has won the endorsement of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, a group with a direct stake in the treasurer’s performance.
Blue, son of former House Speaker and current Sen. Dan Blue Jr., is a promising politician who could be effective in a number of public roles. His investment experience is more limited than Folwell’s, however, and his description of his vision less precise.