By Mary Pat Angelini
On Monday my term serving in the NJ General Assembly will officially end. As I look back on my eight years in the Legislature, I’m proud of my legislative accomplishments and to have represented my constituents with honesty, integrity and personal accountability. I’m especially thankful that I was able to shine a light on issues that affect the more vulnerable segments of our society, including young people and individuals struggling with substance abuse and mental illness. I always felt that one of my duties as a public servant was to give a voice to those who are not always heard. Of course this was sometimes easier said than done, but I’m proud to say that I was able to make some tremendous headway.
During my tenure, I had numerous bills signed into law, including the state’s landmark “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” that has helped reduce bullying in NJ schools by requiring school employees to take action in addressing harassment, intimidation and bullying. Another landmark bill was my “911” or “Lifeline Legislation,” which established a “safe haven” from prosecution for minors who summon medical assistance for intoxicated underage persons. Furthermore, I became deeply involved with our state’s crippling heroin epidemic by supporting legislation to help those struggling with addiction and an advocate for defying the stigma of mental illness by supporting the pressing mental health needs of all Monmouth County residents.
Overall, my goal has always been to help improve the lives of our state’s most vital resource – our residents, which is why I’ve fought to make New Jersey an affordable place for businesses and taxpayers. After a decade of ever increasing taxes and runaway government spending, I’m pleased that I was able to be a part of the effort to reduce spending and help to block repeated attempts at raising taxes on our state’s overburdened citizens. Property taxes are now rising at their slowest pace in more than two decades after we implemented a two percent hard cap on property taxes; small businesses have received needed tax relief; plus, through pension reform, New Jersey taxpayers will save over $122 billion over the next 30 years. Despite this progress, New Jersey is at a critical crossroads. There is much more work to do to make our state more competitive, affordable for middle-class families and attractive for businesses.
As a Monmouth County resident, I hope that the Legislature forges forward in passing legislation that enables families to remain in New Jersey to raise their families and see their grandchildren grow and provides businesses with incentive to stay in our state. Overall, I am forever grateful for the many wonderful friends, colleagues and supporters who helped make my time in the Assembly such a tremendous experience. I also thank the residents of the 11th District for giving me the opportunity to serve. And while I’m excited about my continued human service advocacy work in the next chapter of my life, I will sincerely miss fighting for my constituents as a member of the NJ General Assembly.