Q&A – Where Does Florida’s Turnpike Toll Money Go?

Today’s entry: Waiting for @elonmusk to build flying cars so we don’t have to pay tolls on public highways. #highwayrobbery.

How about educating the public where their money is spent? Tolls suck but they'd tax the highways in the sky (they already exist for commercial aircraft BTW) good topic, no?

Bottom Line: One of the most questionable taxes are Florida’s toll roads. I say questionable because we were originally told tolls would be lifted from Florida’s roads after their construction expenses were accounted for. That happened in the case of the US-1 Florida Keys toll road. It hasn’t for any of the others. All that’s happened with tolls over the years is that they’ve gone higher.

Representative Borrero supports the end of Florida’s toll roads, which was behind his tongue-in-cheek tweet about flying cars. The listener’s question is about how the money from Florida’s toll roads is spent and that’s what I’ll address here. Are Florida’s tolls used for roads? Yes. Is far more money collected than what’s required to keep up with maintenance? Yes. In fact, you might be surprised just how much of it goes elsewhere. What percentage of money collected from the Florida Turnpike’s tolls do you think go to maintenance? Try 18.7%.

The last fully audited year we have info for is 2018 and of the $991 million collected in tolls on the Florida Turnpike only $185 million were used for maintenance of the turnpike. The rest of that money goes to fund the expansion of other roads across the state. You’ll frequently hear about expansion projects across the state during the state legislative session. New projects which are approved and undertaken happen with proceeds from the state’s tolls.

On one hand, it can be argued Florida’s growing and the need to create new roads and infrastructure is essential. On the other hand, it can be argued those projects should be funded if/when they’re approved. That the Turnpike could reduce tolls by 81% and still be more than fully funded is a real tell about what the tolls have become overtime. A slush fund for future projects. It’s one of the most questionable taxes imposed by the state of Florida, which isn’t what was promised originally, and I have little doubt most Floridians who use the turnpike would like fees to be 80%+ lower.

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.


Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio

Photo by: Getty Images

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