Illinois Tollway fees a good example of how Illinois politicians interpret ‘temporary’

Eric Kohn

Eric Kohn is marketing manager at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Eric Kohn
June 27, 2017

Illinois Tollway fees a good example of how Illinois politicians interpret ‘temporary’

History shows Illinois politicians favor tax hikes over spending reform, and the Tollway and 2011 income tax battle offer examples of the dangers taxpayers face when politicians toy with a temporary tax hike.

When the Illinois Tollway was originally created in 1953, lawmakers used the revenue to pay for the original bonding needed to build highways. Former Gov. Bill Stratton, who held office during the creation of the Illinois Tollway, later stated, “Our idea was, at the end of 40 years, when the bonds were paid off, then the tolls would come off.”

Stratton’s original Tollway projections were actually incorrect, as money poured into the Tollway and the original bonds were paid off in full by the early 1980s – years earlier than anticipated.

However, despite the revenues exceeding expectations and the original bonds being paid off, the tolls still remain on Illinois roadways, serving as a constant reminder of the broken promise made to the people of Illinois.

Illinois politicians are once again eyeing a “temporary” tax increase, but this plan would set up taxpayers for a permanent tax hike down the road. Residents should be wary. The Republican “compromise” budget proposal each contains nearly $5 billion in tax hikes, including a “temporary” tax hike.

But Illinoisans know that when politicians call a tax “temporary,” they’re misusing the term. As the 2011 temporary income tax hike was set to expire in the beginning of 2015, politicians moved to make it permanent, a plan that ultimately failed.

History shows Illinois politicians favor tax hikes over spending reform, and the Tollway and 2011 income tax battle offer examples of the dangers taxpayers face when politicians toy with a temporary tax hike.

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