Wake Forest Weekly August 4, 2016
By Savannah McCabe
RALEIGH — Chris Malone, the Republican State House Representative in the General Assembly, wasn’t born in North Carolina, but he has gone native.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Malone grew up on a farm in a family that focused their energies on public service and charitable causes. One charitable cause was in Haiti that his mother Tonie Malone founded. While sick at home in N.J. one week, he resorted to watching CSPAN and caught a different sort of bug. He became intrigued with the political process. He joined his southern fiancé, Becky, in North Carolina 26 years ago and hasn’t looked back.
Malone’s initiation into Wake Forest politics began as town commissioner. He later served as a member of the Wake County Board of Education, where earned the reputation for getting students into the schools of their choice. He won his first election to represent District 35, which encompasses northeastern Wake County, for the 2013-14 term.
Malone admits that his first term was a learning curve that involved more listening than doing.
“I came to the conclusion that everybody tries throwing a bunch of bills against the wall to see what would stick,” he said. He wanted a more deliberate approach. During his first term he got his feet wet tackling issues on education and childcare.
After winning the election for his 2015-16 term he got busy. He was the primary sponsor for nine bills, seven of which passed the House or made it in the budget. They included HB 81, which aided the local Mill Machinery companies on taxes, and will bring Eastern Wake County jobs; parts of HB477 which called for removal of personal information from public websites on local law enforcement; and HB923 which allows rural hospitals to provide unused acute care beds to increase short-term inpatient health capacity. The last, being a bill touted by the Wake County Commission.
Additionally Malone was the primary sponsor for 17 other bills. He assisted in getting funding for Alzheimers care, gaining a subsidy for child care in homes where the grandparents raise their grandchildren and a bill that helps disabled students.
Malone is currently chairman of the Health and Human Appropriations Committee and also chair for the Wildlife Resources Committee. He also serves as vice-chairman for the Appropriations Committee.
He is on six other committees including Commerce and Job Development and the House Select Committee on Achievement School Districts. He also plans to focus on such areas as public service members, daycare and education.
He was instrumental in returning senior citizens’ medical tax deductions.
“Helping out others who are most vulnerable — from senior medical tax to daycare subsidy, all these things are really important,” he said.
He was a primary sponsor of HB1079 which gave Up Pay to state employees and retired state employees. After discussions in leadership forums the House supported his agenda and added raises and COLAS to the House budget. After negotiating with the Senate raises did make it into the final budget.
Supporters of animal rights and the police appreciated the bipartisan role he played on Bill 1009, which allows the transfer of retired service animals to the care of police department officers or employee who had normal custody before.
Malone is passionate about Wake Forest where he raised his children. In a previous budget he saved PARTF money and recently acquired $144,000 towards downtown projects. The latter money can be used at the towns’ discretion.
North Carolina’s economy is the fastest growing state economy in the country since 2013. More than 300,000 new jobs have been added since 2011 and has seen unemployment drop nearly 6 percent. Wake County unemployment is even lower as job growth has been strong.
Malone says Republicans have worked to significantly reduce debts that mounted under previous leadership.
“We have reduced the tax burden by 2.7 billion,” he said, and using his pencil quickly accounted for 9 billion in net debt relief with the creation of rainy day funds.
In some cases, such as the Medicaid overrun the debt has been erased and is now have cash on hand for three straight years.
He said Republicans worked for educators and restored the $1,500 year-end bonuses the Democrats had ended for teachers. He also worked to reinstate a Step Program frozen pay left to the Republican majority.
Teacher raises were the highest in the country last year, followed by another strong one this year. He has also worked to ensure textbook spending was revived from the 99.9 percent cut they had to contend with. Budget numbers show six straight years of increased education spending.
Malone’s view on this hectic political culture is to treat everyone well, work hard, don’t be a Johnny popup, help your constituents and go home.
“Remember you’re just a husband and dad as well as a neighbor,” he said.
In regards to the election, he commented on his leadership role in the House.
“Here’s the key…when you are Health and Human Services Chair; when you are Appropriations Vice-Chair; when you have been around the block a couple of times; you can affect change that you can’t as a newcomer. This is another reason people should vote for me a third time.”