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Learn everything you need to know about voting in the upcoming election, including how to vote in person or through the mail as well as local candidates' positions on various issues and why they think you should vote for them.

N.C. State Treasurer

WFAE asked candidates for North Carolina state treasurer questions about why they should be elected (or reelected). Here are their answers.

RONNIE CHATTERJI, DEMOCRAT

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Ronnie for NC
Ronnie Chatterji

What is your top priority as state treasurer?

Too few North Carolinians have access to high-quality and affordable health care. I will advocate for the expansion of health care in North Carolina and ensure that the state health plan (managed by the treasurer) refocuses on affordability and quality of care for our 720,000 state employees. Specifically, I will actively support the expansion of Medicaid across North Carolina. Expanding Medicaid will provide a foundation to reform the state health plan. I will also ensure that the state health plan gets smarter about how it pays for health care. The goal should be to align the billions we pay each year in health care costs with healthy outcomes for North Carolinians.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is putting financial strains on North Carolina’s cities and towns. What would you do to ensure their finances are healthy enough to meet their financial obligations?

As an economist, I understand the impact of state and local government finances on our economy. Many North Carolinians work for state and local governments all across our state and their jobs are at risk because of the financial issues created by the pandemic. As the state treasurer, I would publicly call on our U.S. senators to advocate for North Carolina and vote to include funding for state and local governments in the next relief package. In addition, I would fix the mismanagement of our pension fund and state health plan, relieving the increasing financial burden on our cities and towns and saving jobs across our state.

What steps would you take as state treasurer to ensure that major hospital systems in North Carolina remain in network for state employees and teachers who are covered by the state’s health insurance plan?

The treasurer's new health care pricing plan has been a failure, with almost no hospitals signing up for it and endangering access to health care for our state employees and educators. We should never again risk access to health care like this ever again. We need a fresh start and a new approach. First, I will advocate for expanding Medicaid, which will improve the financial condition of our rural hospitals. Second, I will bring all the stakeholders together around a plan to align the billions of dollars we pay for health care with actual health outcomes. This approach is already being used by some health systems in our state and saved over $150 million last year. This collaborative approach will ensure that all hospitals remain in network for our state employees and teachers.

There are currently cost waivers for the testing and treatment of COVID-19, which covers deductibles and copays. Given there are few signs of the coronavirus pandemic slowing down, how long should these cost waivers be kept in place?

These cost waivers are essential given that COVID-19 is still a significant threat to the health of North Carolinians. We should keep them in place until the virus is under control and also cover the vaccine when it becomes available.

What would you do to maintain the health of the state’s retirement funds during these unpredictable economic times?

The state pension fund has been mismanaged in recent years, losing approximately $3 billion in value that could secure retirements for North Carolina families. We need to get the politics out of our pension fund and leverage financial expertise instead. First, I would hire a permanent chief investment officer and replace the employees who have departed in recent years to make sure the Department of State Treasurer has the best possible team to manage our state’s funds. Second, I would call for a comprehensive review of our asset allocation to understand if there is too much risk in the portfolio and estimate the impact of the treasurer’s decision to hold billions of dollars in cash during the recent market boom. Finally, I would task my staff with incorporating environmental and corporate governance concerns into our investment strategy. In doing so, we will be able to manage the risks of these unpredictable economic times but also seize new opportunities for North Carolina.

DALE FOLWELL, REPUBLICAN (incumbent)

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N.C. Department of State Treasurer
Dale Folwell

What is your top priority as state treasurer?

1. As the keeper of the public's purse, the top priority is to remain loyal to those that teach, protect and serve and taxpayers like them. 2. Take advantage of our largeness for this and the next generation of public service workers. 3. Attack problems, not people, and to be transparent. 4. Maintain N.C. strong and internationally recognized AAA bond rating which lowers the costs of public education, safety, roads and works. 5.Cement our reputation for being the most transparent/accessible public office in N.C. After all, it's your money.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is putting financial strains on North Carolina’s cities and towns. What would you do to ensure their finances are healthy enough to meet their financial obligations?

As the chair of the State Banking (SBC) and Local Government Commissions (LGC), I have been the champion pre/post-COVID for cities and counties. Google search my name with Tyrrell County, Executive Order 142 and various YouTube presentations to the NCLM/NCACC. What I "will do" pales in comparison with what I have done. COVID has the potential to create/widen economic inequalities never before seen in N.C. A North Carolina with strong urban areas and weak or depopulating rural areas is not optimal. We can only get the right outcomes by being transparent, willing to challenge assumptions, be data-driven, understand "one size policies out of Raleigh" may fit none and could negatively affect job, food, health and educational insecurities.

What steps would you take as state treasurer to ensure that major hospital systems in North Carolina remain in network for state employees and teachers who are covered by the state’s health insurance plan?

The NCSH plan is insolvent but fixable. The unfunded liability is $32 billion which according to Pew put us right behind Illinois (that Illinois). How? For over 40 years, promises were made to state employees to be eligible for lifetime health care after five years of service. Unlike the pension plan, which had funding every 30 days, no funding was made for the health care liability. The Clear Pricing Project (CPP) is simple, honest and upward. It gets rid of secret contracts and surprise/split billing and pushes the power to the consumer. Twenty-five thousand providers who represent hundreds of thousands of patients said yes to CPP. The monopolist hospitals said no after we certifiably offered them 200% of Medicare. Even hospitals who stood to make more said no. We asked, "What would the reimbursement rate need to be to get rid of secret contracts?" No response. Anyone fighting transparent pricing will be on the wrong side of history not to mention the financial strain they place on those that teach, protect and serve.

There are currently cost waivers for the testing and treatment of COVID-19, which covers deductibles and copays. Given there are few signs of the coronavirus pandemic slowing down, how long should these cost waivers be kept in place?

As long as it takes (we just extended them). I say that because the data is so volatile and we want no barriers for testing or treatment. That's what be loyal and exercising a duty of care means in the real world. As state treasurer, I, the board and the SHPlan management have lead the efforts to eliminate costs on testing and treatment. As an ICU COVID survivor, in the words of country singer Jamey Johnson, I've seen COVID in color. We have spent $65 million on testing and treatment for COVID since Valentine's Day 2020 and lead the efforts to get corrections officers tested.

What would you do to maintain the health of the state’s retirement funds during these unpredictable economic times?

I am the only candidate for state treasurer who has always pledged to preserve, strengthen and sustain the plan for the next generation of those that teach, protect and serve. Our investment strategy has been conservative for over 50 years. It doesn't involve dangerous schemes or theories, gambling or crystal balls. Even during these volatile times, we remain one of the best-funded plans in the U.S. Moody's rating agency designated our plan No. 1 in the U.S. for its ability to stay funded during economic downturns.
We have co-chief investment officers with over 45 years of experience with our plans. What I would do is what I've done, which is to be honest with our members, the funders(N.C. General Assembly/cities/counties, etc.) and taxpayers like them. In addition, we look for value. In the end, it's about gains, funding and payments (nearly $540 million every 30 days) and efficiency. We have one of the lowest operating costs in the world and have cut $350 million in Wall Street fees. The plan faces headwinds with 1% interest rates, earlier retirements and the blessedness of longer life expectancies.