The North Carolina Treasurer is elected statewide every four years. The mission is to preserve, protect and sustain the state’s pension and healthcare plans, reduce investment fees while maximizing returns, properly account for and report on all funds that are deposited, invested, and disbursed through the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer, assure the financially sound issuance of debt for state and local governments, maintain the state’s “AAA” bond rating, and provide exemplary service across all divisions of the Department.The Treasurer is an ex officio member of the North Carolina State Board of Education, the State Board of Community Colleges, the State Banking Commission, and the Council of State.
I fundamentally believe smart and efficient government programs and policies can make a difference in improving our lives.
The State Treasurer is effectively the chief economic and financial officer for our state. S/he has a wide-ranging set of responsibilities and unusual authority for a state government official. My background as an economist, business school professor and adviser to President Obama makes me uniquely qualified to do this job. I have spent my career using reliable data and sound judgment to advance economic policy that benefits everyone.
1. I will advocate for the expansion of health care in North Carolina and ensure that the state health plan 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 in turn provide a foundation to reform the State Health Plan. I will ensure that the State Health Plan pays for healthcare in smarter and more transparent ways. The overarching goal should be to align the billions we pay each year in health care costs with healthy outcomes for North Carolinians.
2. As Treasurer, one of my legislative priorities will be the creation of individual retirement accounts for every North Carolinian. These accounts will be managed by the Treasurer’s office and all North Carolina employers who do not currently offer a plan will be automatically enrolled. Employees can opt-out at any time and the Treasurer’s office can leverage our expertise and scale to manage the accounts at low cost.
3. I will modernize and improve the North Carolina Retirement Systems, returning it to world-class standards of fiscal responsibility and risk management. I will carefully review the portfolio and hire the right talent to ensure that we are investing our funds efficiently, with prudence, and with an appreciation for the economic implications of diversity and environmental sustainability.
I plan to use data and evidence to respectfully advocate to the NC legislature for adequate funding of the Treasurer's office and the appropriate level of discretion to respond to changes in the markets. The Treasurer needs an expert staff and requisite authority to manage North Carolina's investments and safeguard our fiscal future. The Treasurer's responsibilities also include being the largest payer of healthcare in North Carolina and managing all of our state and local bonds. As one of the most powerful state government positions in the country, the Treasurer must have the appropriate level of resources to do their job right.
As the State Treasurer and "Keeper of the Public Purse", my loyalty is to those who teach, protect or otherwise serve .through the pension/healthplan.
As State Treasurer ,the most important responsibility has been to exercise a loyal and duty of care as NC's Chief Financial Officer on behalf of those who teach, protect and otherwise serve. Public servants don't call the Treasurer's office to book a cruise. They call because of a life changing event. Most are blessings, some are not. (got/lost a job, got married/divorced/lost a spouse, etc.) At the end of it all, we are in the check delivery business. We spend nearly $750 million every month of participants' (and taxpayers like them) money for pension/healthcare/Rx benefits. That equates to approximately $9 BILLION per year, which is almost twice the state debt. Any ONE participant who doesn't get a check correctly and promptly is one too many.
These responsibilities have to be carried out with discipline, clarity of thought and sequence without getting distracted into areas that have nothing to do with the Office of State Treasurer.
Over the last 4 years, we have reduced Wall Street fees by over $350 million dollars, frozen family premiums in the face of run away healthcare costs and recently negotiated a Medicare Advantage (MA) contract at nearly ZERO costs to retirees and taxpayers like them who fund the plan. The MA contracts is estimated to save nearly $600 million dollars over the first 3 years. Those savings go towards the nearly $32 million UNFUNDED retiree healthcare debt.
We accomplished this by watching the pennies and paperclips. After all, it's YOUR money!
The poet T.S. Eliot once said "hell is where nothing connects". Everything connects at the Treasurer's office. At over $105 BILLION, the NC Retirement System is the worlds' 26th largest pool of public money. It is 4 TIMES larger than the entire NC state budget. Including banking, 401/403/457,healthplan,Rx and NCCASH we are responsible for nearly $200 BILLION. That's 8 TIMES the size of the state budget. When we do well, the state does well.
As the Treasurer, I soon realized the office is uniquely constructed when compared to others in the country. Fmr. Treasurer Harlan Boyles said on p.143 of his book that the office has more constitutional and statutory duties than almost any other elected office in NC. As Chair(s) of the NC State Banking Commission, State and Local Government Commission, Debt Affordability Commission and one of two elected/voting members of the State Board of Education and Community College Board. T.S. Eliot's words gives the NC Treasurer a unique challenge and opportunity to connect the dots. For example, three of the biggest expenses of any state or local agency is pension/healthcare/Rx and debt.
Our culture is based on integrity ability and passion. As an employee of the Office of State Treasurer and as "keepers of the public purse", if you don't have integrity nothing else matters. We prioritize this on EVERY issue by figuring out what's right, getting it right and keeping it right. As fmr. Gov. Jim Martin always says: "doing right is rarely wrong".
Our main goal is to attack problems, not people and to work with the legislature to keep the retirement and state health plan systems FULLY funded and solvent for the benefit of this and the next generation of those who teach, protect and otherwise serve. It's pretty simple, we make and save money for public servants and taxpayers like them. In terms of the NCGA, we don't ask for anything we don't need.
Secondly, we partner with the NCGA and stakeholder groups on technical issues to protect, strengthen and sustain the plan for this and the next generation of public service workers who teach, protect or otherwise serve our state and communities. The vast majority of these partners including the State Employees Association of NC (SEANC) have endorsed and chosen me to be rehired as State Treasurer. We are an agency that is based on disclosure, not discovery. Those that teach, protect or otherwise serve deserve to CONSTANT updating..
Thirdly, we oppose attempts to mandate initiatives that violate our loyalty to state and local public servants. It's always been their money; not Wall Street, big healthcare or big drug companies. We also oppose actions that could violate NC's coveted Triple AAA bond rating. A credit rating to us is like an individuals credit score or a restaurant's sanitation grade. It reflects quality which translates into lower borrowing costs. Lower borrowing costs allows a state to get more of whatever the borrowing is for; schools, public safety and roads.