Editorials

Folwell should be wary of politicizing NC treasurer’s office

tlong@newsobserver.com

Dale Folwell is a soft-spoken fellow who liked to take on productive issues as a Republican House member in the General Assembly, from trying to analyze the state budget and finances with props such as a homemade solar system model to strengthening penalties for those who passed stopped school buses.

In running for State Treasurer, an office long in the hands of Democrats and thought of as conservative in successfully managing billions of dollars for state workers and retirees in the retirement plans and health plan, Folwell pegged his campaign on better management, negotiation of lower fees from Wall Street investment managers and a promise to secure a health plan he said was over-obligated and underfunded.

But there’s evidence that politics are creeping into the Treasurer’s Office. Folwell recently hired two people for director-level positions in the health plan who have no experience in health insurance or health care. And now the person in charge of the day-to-day operation of the health plan has abruptly quit, reason unclear.

It’s important that Folwell realize he needs to trust in veteran employees and guard against his office become politicized. He should oppose, for example, a provision in the budget now being considered that the treasurer have sole authority to hire and fire the health plan’s administrator. That’s something that should be done only after consultation with the plan’s board, as it is now.

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