State Treasurer: endorses Republican former state legislator and assistant commerce secretary Dale Folwell over Democratic lawyer and Wall Street investment banker Dan Blue III. Folwell is dedicated to preserving the state employees' pension fund by closing the gap between funds and payments ...Read more
In a race with two excellent candidates, Republican Dale Folwell gets the slight edge over Democrat Dan Blue III.
Folwell, who lives in Winston-Salem, has had a track record for finding efficiencies and saving money as a lawmaker and head of the state’s Division of Employment Security. He conceived the “tax-and-tag” process that melded auto tax payments and registration renewal, saving $200 million a year.
Blue is bright and creative, but Folwell’s accomplishments tip the scales in his favor.Read more
We begin with a race that doesn’t receive the hot glare of attention, but should, that for state treasurer. This office handles the state’s underfunded pension, as well as the underfunded state health plan for hundreds of thousands of teachers, former teachers and state employees.
Incumbent Democrat Janet Cowell is not running for re-election. Republican Dale Folwell of Winston-Salem wants the seat, and so does Democrat Dan Blue III of Raleigh. Blue, a fine candidate, worked in investment banking on Wall Street and currently works in his family law firm, where he’s gained sound experience in working on bond issues. He’s sharp and well-organized.
Folwell, a CPA, is a former Speaker Pro Tem of the state House and assistant Secretary of Commerce. We’ve differed with him occasionally, but we’ve agreed with him much more, especially on his work in the legislature in reaching across party lines to effect solid legislation. He is a tireless, dedicated worker whose long experience makes him best qualified to resolve the big challenges facing this crucial office.
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.
In July 2016, the N.C. state treasurer released annual performance figures for the N.C. Pension Fund, which is responsible for the retirement assets of nearly 1 million of our state's teachers, state and local employees, law enforcement, firefighters, rescue workers and National Guard members. This report showed that the plan's rate of return was less than 1 percent for the fiscal year. Even though it is reported to be 95 percent funded, according to a recent report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the N.C. Pension Fund is facing a $34.5 billion shortfall.
In open seat race, Republican Folwell blames Democrats for mismanaging State Health Plan, pension fund; Democrat Blue says GOP's response is draconian program cuts
During a contentious debate Tuesday night, Republican state treasurer candidate Dale Folwell hammered repeatedly on the theme that the state health care plan is broke, the state pension plan is underperforming, and his Democratic opponent Dan Blue III attended fundraisers in New York City where Wall Street investment managers reap large, undisclosed payouts from the state.
Blue said all candidates receive donations from many sources, but that doesn’t mean they are influenced by the cash. He said Folwell boasts of eliminating a $2.7 billion federal unemployment insurance debt, but he did so by reducing benefits, and that is not the right solution for State Health Plan and retirement system participants.
The candidates took turns explaining the high stakes of electing the next state treasurer to a down-ballot office that draws little notice even though its $87.57 billion retirement system is one of the largest in the world, and its obligations reach nearly every aspect of public policy in state government.
The North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership and the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce will co-host a “Hometown Debate” for the office of North Carolina treasurer on Tuesday night.
“In this busy election year, featuring races for president and U.S. Senate, the staff and board of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership (NCIOPL) want to ensure that North Carolinians are familiar with the candidates and issues to be found in critical statewide races,” said Nelle Hotchkiss, NCIOPL board chair and senior vice president of government relations at NC’s Electric Cooperatives. “We also want to ensure that North Carolina’s smaller cities and towns are brought into the conversation and their issues and concerns are addressed.”
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Striding across the Starbucks, Republican State Treasurer candidate Dale Folwell apologizes for being a few minutes late. Though it’s barely 11 a.m., he has already appeared at two events in Mecklenburg County before stopping in Statesville to discuss his mission to “apply for the position of state treasurer and chief financial officer" and fix North Carolina’s ailing employee pension fund and state employee health care plan.
The state treasurer is responsible for overseeing the state’s $90 billion pension plan and the state health plan for more than 700,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, and their families.
“The biggest business in the state is the state itself, so when you do something to benefit business, like reforming workman’s comp or unemployment insurance, it benefits the taxpayers too,” Folwell explained.
If elected in November, he promises to “make employees’ money work as hard as it can.” In his first three weeks on the job, he would “find out where the pension money is, who is managing it, how good they are it, and how much money are they making doing it.”Read more
Candidates for North Carolina's treasurer seat talk about their qualifications for holding the office. (WRAL)