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NBC 5 | Group Files Suit to Fight Illinois Toll Hike

The following article by NBC 5 features TUA’s lawsuit against the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.
By Lisa Balde

Thursday, Sept 22, 2011 | Updated 3:48 PM CDT

A taxpayer organization is suing the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, aiming to stop a recently approved toll hike.

Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA), filed the lawsuit Thursday on behalf of taxpayers. The suit seeks to roll back the 35-cent toll increase approved last month to help pay for a $12 billion, 15-year capital improvement plan.

The suit alleges the Tollway Authority violated state law by not doing what it promised years ago: to convert tollways to freeways.

Tollway officials declined to comment as they have not yet seen the complaint.

In 1953, the state decided to pay for the Tri-State Tollway and the Northwest Tollway with fares, rather than taxes. Once the construction bonds were paid off, the plan was that tollways would be free. That didn’t happen.

“The tollway is a creature of statute that went into effect in July 1953,” said Tobin in a statement. “The slogan of the authority was ‘Toll Free in ’73.’ That was when the toll roads were to be paid off and converted to freeways.”

But the tollway keeps expanding, Tobin said, and the toll authority keeps hiking the cost of admission.

“This is contrary to the legislative intent of its creators,” he said.

The lawsuit asks the court to stop the higher tolls, slated to go into effect Jan. 1, until the Tollway Authority makes good on its promises and “complies with the law.”

Tollway officials have said the toll is necessary to make roadway improvements. Some commuters told NBCChicago they’re OK with the increase in exchange for the approximately 120,000 permanent jobs the project promises to create.

But others are worried about how the extra cost will affect their budget.

“If you keep raising prices, we can’t use the tollway,” said Mike Hart of the Illinois Trucking Association.

ABC 7 | Anti-tax group fighting tollway rate hike

The following article by ABC 7 features TUA’s lawsuit against the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.
September 22, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — An anti-tax group is suing to try to stop a big increase in tolls on Illinois tollways.
The tolls would pay for a 15-year construction project.
The group Taxpayers United of America filed a lawsuit Thursday in Cook County. Their goal is to roll back the 35-cent increase in the basic I-Pass rate that was passed by the toll board.
The group says the Tollway Authority violated state law by failing to convert tollways to freeways after all these years.
Tollway officials say they haven’t seen the complaint but are confident they followed the rate increase process as required under state law.

(Copyright ©2011 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Chicago Tribune | Taxpayer group sues to stop toll fare hikes

The following article in the Chicago Tribune features TUA’s lawsuit against the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.

September 22, 2011|By Richard Wronski | Tribune reporter
The group Taxpayers United of America filed a lawsuit today challenging the 87.5 percent toll increase approved last month by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.
The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks to roll back the 35-cent increase in the basic I-PASS rate that the tollway board approved to pay for a 15-year, $12.1 billion construction program.
The suit alleges the tollway authority violated state law by failing to convert tollways to freeways and by failing to plan for its own dissolution, which the taxpayers group contends is required by law.
“The tollway is a creature of statute that went into effect in July 1953,” Taxpayers United President Jim Tobin said in a statement. “I recall that the slogan of the authority was ‘Free in ’73.’ That was when the toll roads were to be paid off and converted to freeways.
“Instead, the tollway keeps expanding, building more toll roads, and hiking tolls, ensuring that it will live forever. This is contrary to the legislative intent of its creators.”
Tobin said his group intends to ask the court to enjoin any attempt to impose the higher tolls until the tollway authority complies with the law.
The suit asks for a class action on behalf of tollway users, Tobin said.
A spokeswoman for the tollway said today the agency hasn’t seen the complaint, so it would be premature to comment.
“But we are confident that we followed the process as required under state laws,” Wendy Abrams said.
rwronski@tribune.com

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DISCLAIMER

Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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