Illinois' jobless rate edged down in January, hitting 9.4 percent compared to 9.7 percent in December, but it's far from a healthy economy.
To fix that situation, America needs to invest in roads, bridges and infrastructure just as President Barack Obama advocated in his jobs plan, the three Democrats running for Congress in the 6th District think.
Maureen Yates, Leslie Coolidge and Geoff Petzel are the candidates on the March 20 primary ballot. The winner will face U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, in the November general election.
Obama's jobs plan "is a really good start," said Yates, a 75-year-old retired Barrington businesswoman. "Then, revise it in accordance with the current situation." Ending America's role in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan would help reduce the deficit and boost the economy, she noted.
Petzel, a 28-year-old Lake Zurich business owner, likes that Obama's jobs bill offers tax credits for hiring the unemployed and veterans. He also supports tax credits for businesses that hire other new workers.
"There is nothing controversial about (Obama's) jobs plan, yet Congress can't accomplish any pro-jobs legislation," Petzel said.
Coolidge, a 52-year-old Barrington Hills accountant, supports hiring incentives and thinks a research and development tax credit should be made permanent.
Coolidge said the jobs bill should be more extensive, "because we need more money pumped into the economy so that businesses feel confident investing in inventories, new technology and equipment, which will spur job creation."
The candidates agreed with ending breaks for wealthy Americans when tax cuts instituted in 2001 expire at the end of 2012.
Coolidge says "the Bush tax breaks should definitely be extended, but only for the middle class. Just like the payroll tax cut, ending such breaks while the economy is still weak is shortsighted because middle-class people tend to spend most of their income." Wealthier taxpayers put their extra income into savings and investments, she added. Specifically, Coolidge thinks tax breaks should be dropped for people making $1 million a year or more.
Petzel said tax cuts should end for individuals making $200,000 or more or for couples earning $250,000 or more. "We must focus on creating fairness in our tax system," he said. "The middle class should receive tax relief." He also wants to close loopholes that offer tax breaks to corporations.
Yates thinks that ending tax cuts for the richest Americans -- those making $500,000 or more -- and easing the burden on the middle class will "inflate the economy and provide jobs and prosperity."
Coolidge also contends Congress should raise taxes on private equity firm owners and employees, "who are allowed by law to recognize their ordinary income as capital gains, thus costing the treasury multimillions of dollars in lost revenues."
The 6th Congressional District includes portions of south Lake County, southeast McHenry County, east Kane County, northwest Cook and DuPage County.
For more information about Illinois unemployment data, visit http://www.ides.illinois.gov.