Dale R. Folwell, CPA

Party: Republican

Age: 61

Campaign Website: https://dalefolwell.com

Occupation: Current N.C. State Treasurer

Years lived in N.C.: 61

1) Tell us what in your record as a public official or private citizen demonstrates your ability tobe an effective Treasurer? Please be specific. 

I have had 3 careers: blue collar, white collar and public service. I am the current State Treasurer and “keeper of the public purse”.

I was born poor in resources and rich in opportunity. My mother was a single mom switchboard operator with three children. At a young age, I learned that in order to get ahead, one had to raise their hand and volunteer for the toughest jobs and, when you made a mistake, disclose it. The world has no tolerance for people at the bottom of the ladder who make mistakes that are discovered. I had a very successful career as a motorcycle mechanic, garbage collector and truck loader. Like many public servants, I used my hands, back and feet, which ultimately changed my heart about the need to educate my mind. I attended and received a BS/MS in Accounting from UNC-G and became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

I served eight years on the Winston Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education, eight years as a member of the N.C. House, where I authored 29 pieces of major legislation. Six of those years were in the minority party. All 29 of my bills were passed with bi-partisan support, and were signed without veto by Governors Easley and Perdue. 

Even at the age of 61, I am always learning from my experiences. While the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, I looked to the collective expertise and passion of state employees to help me solve problems with the broke, broken state unemployment system. With their help and others, we were able to pay off $2.7 billion in debt and built a $1 billion surplus. That surplus ultimately grew to $4 billion, which was desperately needed as nearly a million North Carolinians became unemployed in 2020. We have the best state employees in the nation, and I have learned from them as the State Treasurer.

2) What are the three biggest challenges facing the Treasurer’s office? If elected, how would youpropose to address these challenges?

The three biggest challenges are not emotional or political, but mathematical

A. The pension plan is one of the best funded in the US. I pledge to preserve and sustain this plan for the current and next generation of those that teach, protect and serve.

The math is as follows: there are less people paying into the plan than are not for the first time in history. Low interest rates are a blessing to the economy and citizens, but a headwind to pension plans that earn interest. Public servants are retiring earlier than ever and living longer than ever. The plan  was never designed for this.

B. With a $27 billion unfunded health care liability, the NC plan is one of the most insolvent in the U.S. Microsoft’s Bill Gates said over 8 years ago that liabilities like these pose a long term threat to funding public education, safety, works and roads. We have reduced the liability by over $3 billion in three years, but there is more work to do.

C. Maintain N.C. ‘s AAA bond rating and assist local governments in achieving the same. With all the divisiveness, everyone agrees that borrowing money at lower interest rates is valuable. I am particularly worried about rural NC, especially Eastern rural NC. As we attempt to flatten the economic curve. COVIDD-19 has the potential to create and widen economic inequalities the likes of which we’ve never seen.

3) Last year, the State Health Plan moved toward a Clear Pricing Model, in which the state sets a rate with health care providers based on what Medicare pays rather than having each provider negotiate an individual rate for services with the plan’s administrator. The North CarolinaHealthcare Association has argued that moving to the CPM could deny members and retirees access to critical services. What are your thoughts on the benefits and potential drawbacks of the Clear Pricing Model?

We don’t consume healthcare, it consumes us .The N.C. Healthcare Association is the former hospitals’ associations. The organization is made up of non-profits that have made billions of dollars on the backs of sick people and paid executives tens of millions per year, and has created a healthcare cartel meant to restrict competition and drive up costs. The CPP is simple: get rid of secret contracts and surprise billing, pay primary care and mental health providers more and push the power to the consumer. As Warren Buffett has said, “medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.”  Price is what you pay, and value is what you get.  Over 25,000 providers representing millions of patients said “yes” to CPP. The hospital cartel was offered over a 200% profit and they said no. Anyone against transparent healthcare will be on the wrong side of history.

4) Treatments for gender dysphoria aren’t covered under the State Health Plan because they are considered “elective” procedures.” Advocates for the trans community say that these treatments, which include counseling, hormone therapy, and surgical care, are not elective at all—they are medically necessary and can even be life-saving. Do you believe the state plan should cover these procedures? Please explain why or why not.

The State Health Plan, UNC system, and individuals are currently defendants in a lawsuit on this matter. As State Treasurer, I cannot comment on this question.

5) How well do you believe the state’s Pension Fund has been managed over the past four years? In your view, have there been any significant investment-strategy improvements or cost-savings that will make the fund sustainable for the long-term? How would you manage the fund differently, if at all?

At all time highs of over $108 billion, the pension plan is the 26th largest pool of public money in the world. It was designated by Moody’s rating agency as the #1 plan in the US in terms of its ability to stay funded during economic volatility. I am standing on the shoulders of the investment management team and previous treasurers who have never pretended to have a crystal ball or gamble with the pension money that belongs to those who teach, protect and serve. Our loyalty is to them, not to Wall Street  We have cut fees by over $350 million. That’s nearly three times more than was promised to INDY four years ago. The plan pays out $540 million per month. That’s over $6.5 billion per year.

6) Will you state unequivocally that you would not accept a position on a corporate board while serving as state treasurer? Why or why not?

I took the lead and ended the pay-to-play tactics at the N.C. Treasurer’s office. The previous treasurer made hundred of thousands in outside compensation while being the treasurer. The practice of offering access to the public’s money has ended under my administration. As a former treasurer said, when you are the N.C. Treasurer, people will try to kiss your tail in unimaginable ways! 

I don’t need a law to tell me right from wrong. I have and will never accept outside compensation of any kind as the keeper of N.C.’s purse. As Maya Angelou once said, “When a person shows who they are the first time, you should believe them.” Hundreds of thousands of out of state dollars are flowing back into the Treasurer’s race.

I’m the best State Treasurer money can’t buy. As former N.C. Governor Jim Martin always said, “doing right is rarely wrong.

7) Are there any other issues you would like to address that were not included on this questionnaire?

The root word of conservative is ” to conserve”. The root of liberal is ” to liberate.” I don’t want to be called the treasurer, but to do the work of the treasurer. It’s a verb. People don’t call the the treasurer’s office to book a cruise. They call because of life changing events involving their pension and healthcare, most blessings, some not.

I grew up Baptist and practice as a Methodist, but the blood that runs through me is Quaker. We get the opportunity to be fair and just everyday and don’t pick and choose which laws to apply or who to apply them to. North Carolinians are facing the highest levels of job, food, health and educational insecurity, and don’t give a damn what political party a person is a member of: they just want someone who North Carolinians are facing the highest levels of job, food, health and educational insecurity, and don’t give a damn what political party a person is a member of: they just want someone who will be loyal and attack problems, not people. There is no Democrat, Republican or Independent money at the Treasurer’s office— it’s all green. INDY’s previous admonitions that there is no substitution for the wealth of institutional knowledge that I bring to the Treasurer’s office has never been more important. I am the only candidate to be NC Treasurer that is a CPA, and who has  actually managed money, people and consistently under-promised and over-delivered with transparency. Four years ago, I promised to address the $40 billion in unfunded liabilities. I have made all the right enemies by taking on Wall Street, healthcare  and high drug costs. As Coach K once said,”There are some things that happen right in front of your eyes are worth getting upset about.” Representative John Lewis once said it’s OK to get into “good trouble”; My loyalty to those that teach, protect and serve has led me to experience both. I have someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to everyday. I look forward to receiving your endorsement.

Comment on this questionnaire at backtalk@indyweek.com

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