ORLANDO, Fla. - Imagine a Florida with no more toll roads.
A grassroots effort is underway to get a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot that would do just that.
“It’s outrageous, all the toll roads and toll taxes,” said Sally Baptist, political organizer.
Floridians have all paid tolls at some point or another.
“It’s hurting the people, it’s hurting the quality of life,” Baptiste said.
The fees could soon be a thing of the past if a statewide campaign succeeds.
“It’s taxation without representation is what it amounts to,” Baptiste said.
Petition calling for the end of toll roads in Florida. (FOX 35 Orlando)
Baptiste, who is collecting signatures around the state, hopes to get tolls on the ballot by way of a constitutional amendment eliminating all tolls on Florida highways until voters have their say.
“The right to vote on toll increases and new tolling of roads,” Baptiste said.
“There’s no free highway,” said Sean Snaith, director of The Institute for Economic Competitiveness at The University of Central Florida.
Snaith says the money has to come from somewhere.
“We don’t have a heavy tax burden in the state of Florida. There’s no state income tax in other states. Transportation projects are funded through higher levels of tax revenue,” Snaith said.
If tolls went away, taxes would likely rise.
“If we had the same infrastructure, but it wasn’t paid for via tolls, it would have had to be paid for by some other means, and people would be paying that bill. It just comes in a different form,” Snaith said.
If anything, Snaith says Central Floridians share the cost with tourists.
“We actually probably pay less for our infrastructure because of the visitors that come in and pay the tolls,” Snaith said.
Baptiste isn’t buying the argument that tolls are better than higher taxes.
“A lot of these people might as well be paying a state income tax. If you live in Orange County and you have to use these toll roads all the time, you might as well be paying a state income tax," Baptiste said. "I know people spending 2,300 bucks a month on toll taxes,” Baptiste said.
More than 500,000 people have signed the petition. Roughly 300,000 more signatures are needed.
The issue would have to clear a judicial review prior to making the ballot in 2020.