(Raleigh, N.C.) – State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, called for all deals involving state property, like the now-suspended proposal by UNC Health Care and Atrium Health to merge operations, to come before the North Carolina's Council of State (COS) for review. The COS generally has a statutory requirement to approve all state property transactions. However, the planned UNC Health Care and Atrium Health merger was never discussed at the COS.
“This proposal involved one of the state's most valued assets worth billions of dollars," said Treasurer Folwell. “And yet it was never discussed by the Council of State nor do I think it was ever expected to come before us."
The COS is comprised of 9 statewide elected officials and is led by the governor. The role of the COS in proposals like the UNC/Atrium merger is unclear. The COS's authority resides in Article III of the North Carolina Constitution and various statutory authorizations.
“I look to all members of the Council of State and the legislature to help clarify the role, if any, we currently have in deals like the UNC Health and Atrium merger," added Folwell. “However, not having clear authority shouldn't prevent us from asking tough questions about transactions that have the potential of affecting North Carolina taxpayers."
The North Carolina Department of State Treasurer (Department) administers the public employee retirement systems (including investments) for more than 900,000 North Carolinians, as well as the 401(k), 457 and 403(b) plans for public employees totaling more than $120 billion. The Department provides fiscal assistance and expertise to local governmental units by assisting them in the sale of local government debt obligations and in maintaining good budgeting, accounting, reporting, and other fiscal procedures. The Department oversees the State Health Plan, which provides health care coverage to approximately 727,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, and their dependents. It also administers NC Cash, the unclaimed property database that holds approximately $660 million.