This spring I had the great fortune of traveling around our state to meet with you and our local leaders at nearly 20 locations to hold what I called our IFT “Fair Tax Road Show.”
It was great fun. I was reminded of so many of the aspects of this job that I’m grateful for, including that our members and local unions are incredibly diverse. Each of our locals represents members with a vast range of experiences and backgrounds. In fact, every local union has a culture of its very own. Visiting IFT locals is like going to dear friends’ houses for dinner: It’s always fun, but everyone cooks up a variety of dishes and serves them a little differently. (Make no mistake, during this tour I got fed a lot too!)
My goal for the road shows was to begin the critical conversation about passing a fair tax amendment to the Illinois Constitution in November 2020. We know that we must win this battle to achieve economic fairness in our state, and it won’t be easy. Let’s be honest – few people enjoy talking about taxes, and opponents like Bruce Rauner and the uber-wealthy Koch brothers will work hard to misconstrue the facts and tell the public that a fair tax just means more taxes on the middle class. Nothing could be further from their “truth.”
Here is the reality. Everything we need to get done in Illinois requires more revenue to be accomplished. Our state has a long-standing structural deficit and a $13 billion (and growing) backlog of unpaid bills. Just think of what Illinois could look like – what your school district, university, or community could look like – with full funding of the evidence-based K-12 formula, a massive boost to higher education dollars, and with adequately funded state services for our neediest citizens. Think of the social programs that could be restored, the MAP grants that could be provided for low income students, and the class sizes that could be reduced in K-12 schools.
With a fair tax, we can begin to achieve these goals without raising taxes on 97 percent of working women and men. All we must do is simply ask the wealthy and millionaires among us to pay their fair share.
As I went around to visit you in your communities, I was struck by how invested each of you is in passing the fair tax. I fielded a lot of thoughtful questions and, in the end, it was clear that you are crystal clear on the need for a Fair Tax and you are willing to fight for its passage next November.
I was also reminded at the meetings of your deep commitment to our union. From local Executive Board discussions to member recognition ceremonies to the scholarships you awarded students, it was truly inspiring to see the many facets of union work in action. It was a clear reminder that our power resides in our collective will to work together for the greater good.
Right now, we need to harness that power and focus it on passing the Fair Tax, because it is for the greater good. I look forward to working with you to get it done and create the future we all deserve.
Dan Montgomery IFT President