With the impending Illinois Tollway Board vote to unilaterally increase the tolls, I get the feeling that some people will begin looking for alternatives. Personally - I don't blame them. So my question is simple - will you or won't you submit to these increases?
Naturally I would think that the decision will be based on whatever your personal circumstances and/or preferences are. I am sure the Tollway Authority has already done an internal study as to what the fallout rate will be, but, given their propensity for fuzzy math and logic - who knows how accurate their numbers are. In the end, though, I believe people have finally figured out that we are being nickeled and dimed across-the-board ever since the Huckster Quinn has taken office.
Don't get me wrong here, I clearly understand the need for more revenues. However, it has become abundantly clear that our hapless huckster and his legislative goons will put those revenue increases squarely onto the backs of citizens while largely ignoring the business sectors obligation to contribute their fair share. But hey - what's new?
Look, anyone old enough to remember when the "original tollway bonds" were issued would tell you that these bonds should have been retired long, long ago. Instead, the Tollway Authority has found a way to just keep reissuing them. This, in spite of the fact that the re-issues have gone above and beyond the original scope of those bonds. Seems to me that there should have been multiple referendums since the first bonds were issued to get public approval for any new projects.
The original bonds were never intended to be extended into perpetuity!
The Illinois Tollway, though, is what it is - a money pit. Patronage and theft are common denominators when it comes to their financial woes and quite frankly - requires us all to Feed The Pig. The fact that Governor Quinn said that the Tollway has to "do what it needs to do" ensures that the sham public hearings and citizen comments went for naught. Expect the maximum increase from the political appointees because that is what they intended to do from the get go. But it will come with a cost.
Somehow our clueless legislature and an even more clueless governor has shown that the only solutions they can offer the people of Illinois are a bevy of higher fees and taxes. Now I don't know who in state government decided that the recession is over - but I think that assumption was premature. State unemployment is still far too high to sustain economic growth. And as with any type of over-saturation - the predicted revenue numbers will not be met.
Speaking of numbers - this notion that 120,000 jobs will be created is nothing more than illusion too. Let's face it, when it comes to building highways - the same favored contractors will be awarded the projects. Of course there are only so many contractors able to do such jobs, but since they have been favored for so long - it has all been pretty much a Gravy Train for them. So it was never about "new" jobs - just the same old cast of players and their employees. Now I do realize that some workers have been laid-off from these usual firms and that workers will be recalled - but lget this straight - it isn't about new jobs!
The people who are commuting to their minimum-wage jobs won't be plucked from their vehicles to build these roads - but they will be asked to pay a substantial part of the burden just the same. Of course they are probably the least able to pay those increased tolls so I guess arterial streets and state roads will see an increase in traffic. It will be slower - but they will get there just the same.
As for me - well I will keep my two transponders but instead of taking I-294 to I-90 to get to my doctor appointment, I will just take the "Stevie" down to Lake Shore Drive and backdoor it to the old neighborhood. Besides, I usually go on Saturday's and that is actually a nicer drive along the lakefront in the morning anyhow. The distance is about the same and only adds 15 minutes at the most - so what the heck. But, I am fortunate enough to reside close enough to I-55 and I-80 these days and most of my travels can be done on Freeways - so I really feel for those who do not have the same options.
Like I said, it will come down to individual circumstances and preferences.
However, I still don't believe that the proposed increases are justified. Then again, I don't believe that any increase is justified until there is a true and deep forensic audit of state government. And I mean an audit from top-to-bottom. And if our Hapless Huckster says something to the effect that he has already implemented transparency initiatives - then I want to know why so much information is still incomplete or missing from Sunshine, the state's online accountability project?
Of course the reason for that is pretty obvious, you know?