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NC's Economy in 2022

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
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January 4, 2022 11:23 am

NC's Economy in 2022

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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January 4, 2022 11:23 am

This week on Family Policy Matters, NC Family President John L. Rustin sits down with North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell to discuss our state’s economic landscape as we look forward to 2022. Treasurer Folwell addresses healthcare, the employment crisis, and North Carolina’s budget surplus.

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Rob West and Steve Moore
Rob West and Steve Moore
Rob West and Steve Moore

Welcome to Family Policy Matters, an engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina Family Policy Council. Hi, this is John Rustin, President of NC Family, and we're grateful to have you with us for this week's program. It's our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged, and inspired by what you hear on Family Policy Matters, and that you will feel better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state, and nation. Well, thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. As we begin a new year, many families are setting budgets and trying to get a handle on what the economic landscape is going to look like in the coming months.

Clearly, the coronavirus pandemic continues to play havoc with the economy, both nationally and internationally, impacting production and manufacturing, the supply chain, employment, and consumer spending and purchasing habits. Despite all of this, North Carolina continues to rank as one of the best states in the nation to do business and to live, work, and raise a family. We're excited to be joined by North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Falwell to explore some of these issues.

Why North Carolina is such a great place to live and work, and what some of the biggest opportunities and challenges facing our state and nation will be in the year to come. Treasurer Falwell, who is serving in his second term as State Treasurer, has been a longtime friend of the Family Policy Council. During his four terms in the State House of Representatives, one of those as Speaker Pro Tem, he has always been a strong ally and someone with whom we have worked closely on a host of family-friendly policies. Treasurer Falwell, welcome to Family Policy Matters. It's really great to be back with you and Happy New Year.

Well, thank you and Happy New Year to you as well. Now, Treasurer Falwell, as I said, you were formerly a member of the General Assembly, and certainly our listeners are pretty familiar with what the legislature is, but they may be less familiar with the position of State Treasurer. So, if you would take a minute, we'd appreciate it if you'd briefly explain what the role of the State Treasurer is in North Carolina.

I'd be glad to do that. I consider myself and our staff to be the keepers of the public purse. And what that really should mean to your listeners is that starting with the fact that the culture that we sit here is based on the blood that runs through me, which is Quaker. And one of the Quaker religions is to be fair and just. And what that should mean when you're managing one of the largest pools of public money in the world is that we don't pick and choose which laws to apply or who to apply them to. We treat everybody genuinely and fairly with everything that's dividing our society right now, political persuasion and gender and color. None of that exists at the Treasurer's office.

It's all G R E E N, which is green. Well, that's a great explanation and a good start to our conversation. So, Treasurer Falwell, looking at the economy in general as we begin 2022, where do things stand and what do you consider to be some of the greatest challenges facing North Carolina families? I think the biggest challenge, number one, is that we have public servants who tend to talk about something that they don't know anything about. And even if they did, they couldn't do anything about it. That's one of our biggest challenges. And that leads into our second biggest challenge is that people want to be affirmed about what they feel about a topic.

They don't want to be informed. But thirdly, what I'm deeply concerned about right now is people losing confidence in government, because that is one of the linchpins of our society. And of course, we can talk about the employment crisis that we're facing. We can talk about job, health care and educational insecurity and uncertainty. We can talk about the fact that inflation is a thief that disproportionately hurts our lower and fixed income people.

So we can unpack all that over the next few minutes. We do hear a lot about federal policies affecting the economy, especially with respect to inflation, which you just mentioned. How have federal policies during the pandemic helped or hurt the economy and families here in North Carolina from your standpoint? I think that North Carolinians, especially lower fixed income individuals, many of whom don't have an opportunity to work remotely, I think they have been disproportionately negatively affected. This virus has created death. It's created illness. It's created poverty and it's created illiteracy.

And no one who flies under the banner of Family Policy Council would be in favor of any of those three things. Treasurer Falwell, one area that has been dramatically impacted by federal policies is in the arena of employment and the labor market. It seems like more and more small businesses are having difficulty finding workers and are having to either limit hours of operation or even in some cases shut down altogether. Give us a sense of where you think things stand with respect to unemployment and jobs and where you see things going in 2022. Let me start by empathizing with anyone who is an employer of people and the difficulty that they're facing right now in actually finding people to do the jobs. It's ironic.

I'm 63 years old. I've been in the labor market for 53 years in this state. And it's ironic that as I was going down the road this winter on my motorcycle, I would see signs like not apply inside, but we hire immediately.

I would see other signs that said, if your service is slow, please don't blame the people who chose to show up for work. Almost a year ago, I sounded the alarm in the state of North Carolina about what I saw coming with the employment crisis of this state, not the unemployment crisis, the employment crisis. And as I was trying to explain this to folks in Raleigh, I had to remind people that this is about the fact that the biggest employer in North Carolina is the state of North Carolina. The second are the school systems, John.

The third are the counties and the fourth are the cities. So when we talk about an employment crisis and the inability, we're not talking about people serving food or doing other important jobs. We're talking about essential services of state and local government. So this is affecting everyone. And the reason why is going on for two reasons. And one is a very positive reason. We, you and I and others, have always known the importance of women in our society. But not until COVID did we actually put everything together as women have become a bigger part of our workforce, of the fact that when they did that, they didn't leave their other jobs as mothers and as people who are glue that keep their family units together.

And so I think it's put a great positive spotlight on the impact that women have in our world in general. The second part of all this is that it's also put more sunshine on the fact that as far as the employment crisis is concerned, you cannot have a system where people who chose to show up for work are paying into a system to reward people more per hour for not showing up for work. These businesses cannot compete against their own government that they're paying unemployment taxes into. Treasurer Falwell, despite these national economic challenges and in some cases the responses of the federal government to that, North Carolina has remained on strong financial footing with budget surpluses driven by sound budgeting, lower taxes, controlled spending and record setting savings. To what do you credit North Carolina's continued strong performance economically?

To your point, what has happened before any of us had ever heard of COVID for 10 years? The state of North Carolina had been balancing its budget, building surpluses, building rainy day funds. The part that I played a part in was paying off $2.7 billion of unemployment debt that ultimately built up to a $4 billion surplus. That $4 billion unemployment surplus was desperately needed as we have nearly a million people unemployed in North Carolina. So what happened during the semester put North Carolina in a great position of financial certainty for handling this deadly pop quiz called COVID. And so all the credit goes not only to the General Assembly who has lived within its means, but also the taxpayers who pay these taxes.

Well, no doubt about that. On another topic, health insurance, particularly Medicare and Medicaid, this is always a big subject of conversation in the halls of the legislature and among leaders of our state like yourself. From your perspective, where do things currently stand as far as access to health care in North Carolina, especially for the elderly and economically disadvantaged? We are seeing and experiencing the cartelization of health care in North Carolina.

If you go to Webster's Dictionary, cartel is defined as associations which are formed to restrict competition or raise prices. We all know from Pew Research and other Johns Hopkins and other think tanks around the world that anytime that you have the concentration of health care into the hands of multi-million dollar executives who run these multi-billion dollar nonprofits, these nonprofits have billions and billions of dollars in the bank off the backs of sick people, but they are allowed to call themselves nonprofits. What happens, the result of that is lower quality, lower access and higher cost.

I'm the chair of the state health plan board, which we are the largest purchaser of health care in North Carolina, and I'm in favor of higher quality, higher access and lower cost. What's happening is that when you have the cartelization of health care, you have a product that people would rather not consume because that would mean they're healthy. When they try to inquire as to what it's going to cost, they're told it's none of their business. And then when they don't pay for something they didn't want to consume and were not told what it would cost, then their credit rating is destroyed.

When people have their credit rating destroyed by consuming a product they would rather not consume when no one would tell them what it cost is something that's worth getting mad about. This is far different, John, than when I was growing up when credit scores mattered, but not like it does today. Credit scores determine what you pay for the basic liability insurance that gives you the upward mobility in your life. Credit scores determine whether you get the benefit of the doubt when you need to rent shelter, and obviously credit scores matter when you want to borrow money to buy a house.

We just had an article last year from the Wall Street Journal that says that one procedure at one hospital in Northern California, one procedure at the same hospital can cost between six and $60,000. Think of the discrimination that goes on. If you and I were to walk into a McDonald's door with the exact same menu items and you'd be charged a different price than I would based on what type of credit card we presented to them.

We would not tolerate that. Why do we tolerate that in healthcare? And this is, as I said earlier, disproportionately impactful from lower income and fixed income individuals. We at the state health plan and I as the cube of the public purse is not going to be on the wrong side of history and to continue to take advantage of people and price something to them that they don't know the cost of that they would rather not consume. Wow, clearly we could do an entire show or two about that because it's such a critical issue for our state and for individuals and families in North Carolina. Now, this may come as a bit of a surprise to some of our listeners, but throughout your tenure, Treasurer Falwell, as the state treasurer, you have been committed to actually returning money to the citizens of North Carolina. Talk for a minute, if you would, about unclaimed property and what the treasurer's office is doing to try to return property and cash in some cases to the citizens of North Carolina.

Well, I'll be glad to do so. And we spent about eight hundred million dollars every 30 days for pension, health care, prescription drug benefits. And by the way, when we talked about health care a moment ago, let's be clear, we're not talking about the people actually do the work of health care. We're talking about the multimillion dollar executives work for the multimillion dollar nonprofits. But part of what we do is we have a program called

It's very simple. A, your chances are better playing the lottery. B, it's simply where somebody tried to mail you a check that you did not receive or you did not cash. Ultimately, that has to be sent to us. Last year, we gave out seventy five million dollars to individuals, churches, nonprofits and businesses of money that's sitting at the treasurer's office. So people can go to because it is public record.

If it's over fifty dollars, we just say it's over fifty dollars. But I want to report that just in the last few weeks, we were able to find somebody who had two hundred and forty eight thousand dollars sitting at from a life insurance policy from somebody who left them this money over 10 years ago. Well, State Treasurer Del Falwell, thank you so much for your time.

That's great information. And I do want to encourage our listeners to go to Again, that's to check and see if you might have any unclaimed property, but also visit the website of the North Carolina Treasurer's Office at Again, that's to learn more about the Treasurer's Office and the great work that Del Falwell is doing as our state treasurer in North Carolina. And with that, Treasurer Del Falwell, I want to thank you so much for your time and your participation with us on Family Policy Matters.

You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plan to tune in again next week to listen to the show online and to learn more about NC Families work to inform, encourage and inspire families across North Carolina. Go to our website at That's Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-01 23:52:20 / 2023-07-01 23:58:12 / 6

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