Bill would reimburse bridge tolls to low income workers - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Bill would reimburse bridge tolls to low income workers

Posted: Updated:
This sketch shows what the East End Bridge would look like. (Source: Ohio River Bridges Authority) This sketch shows what the East End Bridge would look like. (Source: Ohio River Bridges Authority)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A bill before the General Assembly would eliminate bridge tolls for people who don't make much money.

On Friday, State Representatives Jim Wayne and Reginald Meeks of Jefferson County introduced legislation that would exempt Kentuckians who work in Indiana and make less than $25,000 a year.

"We're talking about the mother who cleans the toilets at the Sheraton Hotel over in Indiana, who lives in this city and has several children," Wayne said.

That mother would pay about $500 a year in tolls because the bridges authority plans to set tolls at $1 each way.  

Why should anyone get a free ride? "We don't give them discounts at the airport," said Louisville resident Walt Schwartz.

"I think that person has a valid point," said Wayne. "The larger issue he's addressing is why do we have tolls in the first place?"

Wayne says Kentucky and Indiana have the money to pay for the bridges without tolls. He says money in Frankfort is controlled by rural lawmakers who unfairly distribute it even though taxpayers in Jefferson County are paying most of the bills.

"For instance, in 2011, Senator Williams' district of Cumberland County received $3,000 per person in Cumberland County for new road projects," said Wayne. "In Jefferson County it was less than $150 per person."

What about the all the legwork and paperwork needed for the toll-free ride?

"I think the intention is good, but I have concerns about enforcing it and who gets that benefit," said Schwartz.

"The working poor would pay tolls up front like everybody else," said Wayne, "then come tax time it's a simple check of a box on the return, drop the receipt in, and that's it."

TARC buses also would be excluded from the tolls.

Wayne said he wasn't sure what kind of movement House Bill 129 will get in this session, but he added it already had a lot of support with eight co-sponsors.

Copyright 2013 WAVE News. All rights reserved.