Senator Hill Files Legislation to Address Inequities in the Toll Increases to Maine Commuters
AUGUSTA – Senator Dawn Hill (D – York County) has submitted a bill for the next legislative session to ask the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) to restructure some of its latest toll changes due to the significant burden it has placed on local commuters.
The bill, An Act to Provide Toll Discounts to Maine Commuters on the Maine Turnpike Authority, would direct the MTA to come up with toll rates that would be fair and equitable to all Maine commuters. The bill is in response to public outrage on the new toll fees and the financial impact it has on local travelers, particularly in the southern Maine area.
“In talking with people around the Senate District, it is clear that there is a concern with the new toll charges and the unfair burden it has placed on many commuters,” said Hill. “Some individuals now pay double the amount for tolls just to travel to their job. This is not right.
Senator Hill added, “We hear a lot of talk about being a business-friendly state – and I welcome that message – but we also have to support the workers and people of this state. Many Mainers are struggling with the economy and increased cost of living. Travel is already expensive with high gas prices, let alone doubling the tolls for many.”
Earlier this year, the Maine Turnpike Authority Board unanimously approved a plan to raise the tolls, which will go into effect November 1, 2012. The MTA cited paying bond debt service as the immediate reason for the toll increase.
Hill’s legislation recognizes the financial responsibility of the MTA, but would seek toll relief on those Maine commuters who will experience an unfair increase in toll charges.
“I understand the need to restructure the tolls along the Turnpike,” said Hill. “But I don’t believe it is reasonable to balance the MTA’s budget on the backs of certain Maine commuters. This bill is focused on helping those individuals.”
Hill’s legislation will not be addressed until the Maine Legislature starts its new session in January 2013.
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Senator Dawn Hill is the Ranking Democratic Senator of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. She represents Senate District 1, which includes the communities of Eliot, Kittery, Ogunquit, South Berwick, and York.