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I-73 Toll Bill Passes ... is it a tax?

Last week, the SC Senate came to a resolution on the I-73 Toll Bill, and passed the measure. Gov. Mark Sanford is expected to sign it. The I-95 admendment was dropped, so the bill only opens up the toll possibility for Interstate 73. Supporters of the bill see this as a big statement showing the US Congress that South Carolina is serious about looking for ways to fund the construction of the $2 billion project.

Does this mean I-73 will have Toll Booths? - No, it does not. The bill only allows tolling as a possible - not definite - funding source. The bill does not form a Toll Authority, it does not give any bond amount, it does not state any locations for toll booths, and it does not legislate any toll amount.

Opponents to the toll bill point out that the toll is the same as a tax. Andy Brack, who publishes the S.C. State House Report has editorialized about the passed bill, here. He points his viewpoint out most clearly here:
But remember it's a toll, which is just a glorified way of saying "special tax." (Note to political consultants: All of the Republicans and Democrats who voted for the toll proposal actually voted to increase taxes -- despite a "no new taxes" pledge that a majority of them signed.)
He points to other alternatives like the State Infrastructure Bank, which has helped to fund the construction of the Carolina Bays Parkway and other projects throughout the state.

What does this all mean?

Nothing much actually. Yes, the bill does open the way to a possible funding source. One that supporters hope will lead the way to more funding from the Federal Government. But I'm certain that pipeline isn't threatening to run dry.

Opponents will become more vocal if tolls become the overall means to pay for the highway. Battles over the amount of tolls, local communities wanting a discount on the toll, experiation of the tolls, possible creation of a toll authority, and who will be responsibile for the care and upkeep of the Interstate will surely follow.

The one thing the bill does accomplish is keeping the highway in the press while final design is being done on the south segment of the highway, and studies begin on the north segment.

There's still a long way to go before tolls are actually decided for I-73.

Poll:

I have created a poll in the Southeast Roads Yahoo Group on the question: "Is a tolled highway the same as a tax?" It closes February 15.

Comments

Froggie said…
That Andy Brack is contradicting himself. He calls tolls "a tax" and rails against them, yet in another one of his articles from that article link, he supports raising the state's cigarette tax. Isn't that a tax too?
- Out in the cold said…
I hope that this site has brought you what you want Adam & that the effort you have gone to brings you what you truly deserve.
Taxes are imposed on the population as a whole. An IH 73 toll would a charge those who use the road, exclusively. Calling that a "tax" is absolute rubbish. Just more political abuse of the language. That sort of thing makes me want to go upside ppl's heads with a cricket bat.

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