Judge Tosses Lawsuit To Stop Toll Hikes
Last week, judge Rita Novak dismissed a lawsuit filed by Tobin and others on December 20th, that questioned the Illinois Tollway Authority’s ability to raise toll rates and declined to issue an injunction to stop the 87% toll increase slated to go into effect on January 1st.
“The hearing was a spectacle,” said Tobin. “Tollway users were represented by noted attorney Andrew Spiegel, and State Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) must have been worried, because she had six — that’s right — six of her taxpayer paid staff there to represent the Tollway Authority.”
Tobin is the founder of Taxpayers United for America (TUA) , a non-profit group that had just celebrated it’s 35th year of fighting higher taxes.
Tobin’s lawsuit challenged the agency’s authority to raise tolls based on how the Toll Highway Act was originally written back in the 1950′s. It’s Tobin’s view the law was not intended to allow the Tollway Authority to self-perpetuate itself. According to the lawsuit, the intent of the law was to ultimately dissolve the Tollway Authority and turn the tollways into freeways.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s account, the Tollway Authority was happy with the outcome.
“We’re very pleased with Judge Novak’s decision to dismiss this complaint against the Tollway,” the agency said.
While the Tollway Authority’s Board felt it necessary to increase the average toll cost 35 cents from 40 cents to 75 cents for I-PASS users and even more for drivers paying cash, in order to pay for $12 billion in construction projects over the next 15 years on August 25th, TUA’s Director of Outreach Rae Ann McNeilly believes its just another tax on Illinois citizens.
“This toll tax increase has nothing to do with improvements and maintenance of existing tollways and has everything to do with expanding and perpetuating the bloated bureaucracy known as the Illinois Tollway Authority,” said McNeilly. “Conventional wisdom supports tollways as a direct tax, but in Illinois, the administration of the tollway has become a cesspool of cronyism and provides high paying jobs and pensions for the friends and family of Illinois bureaucrats as well as lucrative contracts for unions who support the politicians that make the tollway leadership’s appointments.”
Tobin plans to appeal Novak’s ruling on February 7, 2012.
“We will continue this fight on behalf of millions of taxpayers,” said McNeilly. “We will either appeal this ruling or file an amended complaint. This kind of ‘Chicago Politicking’ is sucking taxpayers dry and we are prepared to fight.”
Tobin will be on CLTV to discuss this issue Friday at 6 PM.