With the 2020 general election just weeks away, voters in North Carolina will elect either incumbent Dale Folwell or Ronnie Chatterji as state treasurer.
The state treasurer is responsible for running and protecting the state’s pension fund and health care plan, as well as issuing and approving state and local debt in the form of bonds. The office also accounts for all funds deposited and invested in the N.C. Department of State Treasurer and reduces investment fees while maximizing returns.
Folwell, a Republican, was elected as treasurer in 2016. He was a member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education and served four terms in the N.C. House of Representatives, including one term as speaker pro tempore. Folwell is a certified public accountant.
Chatterji, the Democratic candidate, is an economist and professor at Duke University. He was senior economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration. He serves as a member of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Entrepreneurial Council. If elected, Chatterji will be the first Asian American elected to a statewide office in North Carolina.
Folwell said his top priority is to keep pension and health plans fully funded during the pandemic. Recent changes to the plan included the extension of COVID-19 cost waivers through the end of October and the implementation of no-cost insulin prescriptions for state health plan members starting Jan. 1, 2021.
He also wants to continue decreasing health care costs for public servants and work on the economic insecurity that is affecting rural North Carolina.
Chatterji said he supports Medicaid expansion in the state, as well as protecting and strengthening the Affordable Care Act. He wants more transparent prices and to help health care users better understand what they are paying for.
“I support expanding Medicaid because I think it makes economic and moral sense, and it's going to help so many of our communities across North Carolina,” Chatterji said.
Folwell said he understands the effects of COVID-19, as he was hospitalized for six days with the virus in March. He said he wants to flatten both the health care and the economic curves.
“We've got to make sure that we're flattening the economic curve,” Folwell said “because people are facing the highest levels of job, health, education and food insecurity in the history of our state.”
Chatterji said there should be a small business stabilization fund to help support small businesses and thinks budget holes in state and local government due to the pandemic should be fixed. He said a treasurer cannot directly fix these issues, but he advocates for them.
“If we don't protect small businesses and the people who work for our state and local governments, we're going to have a huge market problem over the next couple years,” he said.
Folwell said as a conservative, he believes in conservation. He expressed support for clean energy and said there is enough sun, wind and water to use as energy and make both a better impact on our environment and economy, citing the state's high cost of subsidizing fossil fuel production.
Chatterji said he wrote a book, “Can Business Save the Earth?”, about how institutional investors can alleviate some risks associated with climate change through their investments. He said the value of some companies may go down due to climate change if they don’t have good strategies to deal with a transition to a low-carbon economy.
“When I'm treasurer, we will incorporate the risks of climate change into the analysis of our investments, and we will make smarter investments than we're making now,” he said.
Folwell said if elected again, he would continue to be efficient and loyal to the people, more so than Wall Street or any health care companies.
“The best thing for the treasurer is to be loyal to those that teach, to those that protect and those that otherwise serve,” he said.
Chatterji plans to hire a permanent chief investment officer if elected, and make the treasurer’s office more available to businesses or students interested in partnerships to grow their career.
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