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Poll: Should EZ-Pass Get a Tax Break?

State Rep. Stephen Ucci (D-Johnston, Cranston), with the support of Rep. Richard P. Morrison (D-Bristol, Warren), has proposed a bill to give holders of EZ-Pass accounts a tax credit — what do you think?

A Johnston legislator has proposed a tax credit to EZ-Pass account holders who use the electronic payment system to cross the Newport Bridge and several local representatives are on board.

Rep. Stephen R. Ucci (D-Johnston, Cranston) said in a press release that the bill is meant to help drivers recover some of the cost of using the Newport Bridge.

"It’s an added expense to have to travel across a toll bridge constantly," Ucci explained. "Some of these folks have to use their EZ-Pass five days per week just to get to and from work. In this economy, everyone needs a little extra assistance and this specific population of people is getting hammered with fees."

According to the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority website, Rhode Island residents pay $25 to activate an account and up to $33 for a transponder that charges the account 83 cents each trip to cross the bridge. Members add funds to the account every six weeks according to use.

The EZ-Pass system netted RIBTA about $11 million during fiscal 2011, about 60 percent of its overall toll collections, according to the authority's 2011 financial statements.

In February, RIBTA's board voted to increase the cash (non-EZ-Pass) toll to $5 per vehicle and the EZ-Pass fee to $1 beginning July 1, NewportPatch reported.

Ucci's bill is co-sponsored by several representatives from towns near the Bridge, including Reps. Peter Martin (D-Newport), Deborah Ruggiero (D-Jamestown, Middletown), J. Russell Jackson (D-Newport, Middletown), and Richard P. Morrison (D-Bristol, Warren).

The proposal has been referred to the House Finance Committee for a hearing to be scheduled.

What do you think?

Is Ucci's bill a good idea? Do you think drivers who regularly use EZ-Pass on the Newport Bridge should get something back at the end of the year?

Or do you think that the state just can't afford to pay those drivers back?

Cast your vote in our poll below, and sound off by posting your comments.

DownTown May 04, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Maybe the State should ask Massachusetts how they are able to maintain the Sagamore and Bourne bridges without any toll. Outside of the Mass Pike which was built with the toll funds the rest of the tolls in MA on the Tobin bridge, the Callahan and Ted Williams tunnels are only tolled in one direction. Maybe we do it to support the 60 full time employees of RIBTA. After they answer that we can ask them why they perform maintenance on their bridges in the winter when we in RI know that waiting for warm temperatures and more traffic in the summer is the only time for bridge maintenance.
Robert E May 05, 2012 at 12:45 AM
The Sagamore and Bourne bridges are owned and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers So the money does not come from the State of Massachusetts but from the U.S. Government. If you look at the condition of the state owned bridges in Massachusetts they are in worse shape then RI.
BOB I May 05, 2012 at 12:10 PM
in other states your EZ PASS is billed on your phone bill not a separate account held by the RIBTA. also i thought i read that RIBTA was not making a profit with EZ PASS, it was a more convenient way to pay. {yeah right}
Class of 78 rules May 05, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Considering that some of the people that need to ez pass to get to and from work are working meager jobs in comparison to an engineer making 75k a year, I think the tax credit is important. Some occupations allow tax deductions for tolls, mileage etc, while the girl working at Mcdonalds across the bridge is not entitled to these deductions and it cuts into her already high household expenses. She's already paying part of this in her already too high gas tax at the pump.You can't expect her to uproot her family to make ends meet because of the expenses of EZ Pass...especially if she was around long before EZ Pass was. We are in a small enough state that it is very easy for us to pick up and go a couple of miles to get to 2 surrounding states that are less expensive to live in. If this state doesn't get it's shit together, we are going o start losing residents on top of the companies that running to get out of here. When the companies don't want to go through the wringer to set up shop here, the burden falls on us individual tax payers. This place is going to start looking like Detroit if someone doesn't do something.
Robert E May 05, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Bob, I don't know where you got your information from but I just checked all the states that used EZ Pass and they all setup seperate EZ Pass account just like the RITBA does there is nothing different here in RI then any other state using EZ Pass.
Ray DeForge May 05, 2012 at 07:46 PM
- - - as a resident of the oppressive monetary system, Rhode Island lost me as a resident (a "native" resident, mind you) back in 1965.......... no local jobs, and a "war" that was desperate for military "labor". In 2005, it cost $4.00 to cross San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge going northbound, and FREE coming southbound. That's half the price of a round trip over the Mt. Hope bridge. Just an observation - I miss my old "home State". ................. the "Sausage King"
BOB I May 06, 2012 at 12:05 AM
new jersey has it on the phone bill
Robert E May 06, 2012 at 05:12 PM
How do they put it on the phone bill there are so many phone companies out there? I checked the NJ EZ Pass website and could not find anything on there about getting it on your phone bill
Vicky White June 04, 2012 at 11:19 PM
A tax credit for EZ Pass holders penalizes those who cannot afford the EZ Pass set up costs, yet they will pay more in tolls for that very reason. It penalizes the working poor, especially with the increase to $5.00. There is a subset of people who do not have expendable cash flow for these types of things.
DownTown June 04, 2012 at 11:50 PM
What other Massachusetts bridges are you referring to? The bridge connecting 93 South to Boston is brand new and the Tobin is constantly being worked on. Those bridges have hundreds of times more traffic on them than anything RI has. Maybe we ought to sell our bridges to the USACE for $1.
raypitter July 12, 2012 at 08:23 AM
I am using a EZ pass and I want to know that can I use this EZ pass at every where in the state. I am also using a attractive EZ pass holder in front of my car. It looks very pretty and it is very helpful because before using it I have lost my EZ pass somewhere. But now I am always put my EZ pass in my pass holder. I have purchased it from http://www.tonicconcepts.com
Jim L July 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM
so will my ez pass that i bought in NJ be useless for the instate rate in RI? a double rip off
Ray Andrews July 12, 2012 at 01:27 PM
- The tolls for the bridges in RI are (too) high. - Tolls are going up, and being added, because the state doesn't have the money it needs - EZ-Pass is going to collect the same amount of money from toll payers regardless of the state they're from - To make life easier for RI locals there is this proposal to give a tax credit (money back) for RI EZ-Pass holders. If the state already doesn't have the money it needs for tolls, where does the tax credit money come from ?
Jim L July 12, 2012 at 01:36 PM
#1 i got my ez pass in NJ years ago, so i have to buy a ri one to get a break?#2 if there is new money in the federal budget then our state reps should grab it and put tolls on 95, tolls on just the new bridge will hurt more locals than is needed
Robert E July 13, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Jim your NJ ez pass is no good for the in state rate it will charge you $4.00 every time you go over the bridge. If you want in state rates($0.89) you will need a RITBA ez pass. I don't know why RI does this no other state I know of has different rates for different users. Back when they had tokens everybody that used tokens paid the same rate ($0.89) no matter what sate they lived in.

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