Low-income Kentuckians who work in other states would be exempt from paying bridge tolls under a new bill filed in the General Assembly.
House Bill 129 would allow any Kentuckian who commutes across state lines and who qualify for the earned income tax credit to seek reimbursement for tolls they pay going to and from work.
Though it would apply to any tolls on any bridges in Kentucky, the bill is primarily concerned with the Ohio River Bridges Project between Louisville and Indiana. That project will be paid for partially with tolls, and the legislation is aimed at alleviating what sponsoring state Rep. Jim Wayne of Louisville calls a regressive tax.
“The Bridges Authority is going to have to accommodate this in their toll plan,” Wayne said. “They’re going to have to recognize that if they’re going to impose tolls, the people who are the most hurt by tolls are going to be exempted, and they’re going to have to process that in their financial plan.”
Under the legislation — House Bill 129 — anyone who works out of state and who qualifies for the federal earned income tax credit could file for reimbursement for all tolls paid getting to and from work. Wayne says this addresses the lack of economic diversity that went into planning the bridges project in the first place.
Public transit buses would also be excluded from tolls under the legislation.
All of the bill’s co-sponsors are from Louisville, except one, who is from Northern Kentucky.
“The rural legislators in leadership have taken a disproportionate amount of the road fund for their rural counties, so Jefferson County is left to pay for the rural county roads and we don’t have enough money to have our own infrastructure here,” Wayne said.