Kentucky bill would reimburse low-wage workers for bridge tolls - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky bill would reimburse low-wage workers for bridge tolls

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A bill introduced Friday in Kentucky's General Assembly would reimburse low-wage workers for tolls they paid to cross the bridges over the Ohio River.

Representatives Jim Wayne and Reginald Meeks, both of Louisville, introduced the bill.  Wayne explained in a news release, "Low-wage workers shouldn't have to spend the first part of their workdays simply trying to earn back the money they paid in tolls to arrive at work.  A single mother cleaning toilets at the Sheraton should not pay an extra burden of $500 a year just to go to her workplace." 

Tolls are expected to be around $1 per crossing for frequent commuters in cars, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles that would use transponder devices.  Tolls for such vehicles that were not frequent commuters would be $2.  Panel trucks like delivery trucks would pay about $5, and tractor-trailers about $10.

The tolls will be in effect on the new East End bridge, the new I-65 bridge, and the reconfigured Kennedy Bridge.

Only about half of the people surveyed in a poll back in April favored using tolls to help pay for the two new Ohio River Bridges.  The poll also found Indiana drivers cross the river about four times more often than Kentucky residents.

"Tolls are a regressive tax. This proposal would remove much of the harm tolls would have on low-income workers in our community," said Meeks.  "Government should be removing barriers for those trying to work to support their families, not burdening them with tolls."

People wanting to be reimbursed for the tolls would have to be eligible for the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit.  They would file a form each year showing the amount of tolls paid. 

Public transportation such as TARC would also be exempt from the tolls.  "Public transportation providers' budgets are already cut to the bone," Wayne said. "Any time their costs increase, their ability to serve the working poor and other customers decreases."

Previous stories:
Bridges project becomes cheaper, but still requires tolls
POLL: Wide support for bridges project, less for tolls

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