In 1953, the Illinois State Toll Highway Commission opened one of the first tollway systems in the country designed specifically for daily commuters in the Chicago area. According to officials and lawmakers at the time, the tollway system was designed to be a nearly self-sufficient way to pay for roads and upkeep while keeping taxes down.

But those plans changed once the state realized how much revenue came in from the tollway system. The promise to not raise toll fees fell to the side and the tollway system became part of the city, county and state’s revenue pipeline. The revenue successes of Illinois paved the way for other states to follow.

Overdraft and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees share a history with the revenue pipelines of toll roads. Originally conceived as a credit union member benefit more than 40 years ago, overdraft and NSF fees became decently-sized revenue streams that many credit unions and banks could rely on each year. According to the CFPB, financial institutions in the U.S. collectively were bringing in more than $15 billion in overdraft and NSF fee revenue each year – until 2020.

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Michael Ogden

Editor-in-Chief for CU Times.

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