Republican state Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington and his Democratic challenger Amanda Howland of Lake Zurich agree on the importance of creating new jobs and retaining existing ones in Illinois, but differ on whose experience and ideas as most likely to make it happen.
The two rivals for the 26th District senate seat believe their respective personal and professional experiences make them best suited for playing a key role in revitalizing the state's economy.
Duffy said there are a number of steps necessary to creating a pro-business environment in Illinois. Among them are implementing Medicaid reforms, restoring a more predictable tax structure for businesses and reforming workers' compensation laws.
Current workers' compensation laws, he said, have created a "Wild West" corporate environment in which only attorneys can thrive, and a reason why many businesses are locating outside Illinois.
Duffy is opposed to any and all forms of tax breaks and incentives to keep businesses in Illinois -- including those offered to suburban-based companies like Motorola Mobility and Sears Holdings Corporation.
What every business wants from the state above all, Duffy argued, is a level playing field.
"I've been an outspoken opponent of corporate welfare," he said. "You can't just benefit the politically connected."
Howland believes the state should retain some flexibility when it comes to tax incentives, but they should be used sparingly and only after careful review on a case-by-case basis.
However, where she said the state has fallen short is in setting specific parameters for a company's promised impact on the economy in exchange for its tax breaks, and requiring those parameters be met without fail.
An example of what Howland sees as an abuse of the current flexibility is Arkansas-based Wal-Mart getting tax breaks to operate in the state.
"We have big businesses getting big breaks that are contributing nothing to our economy," Howland said.
She believes $900 million could be collected each year by ending unnecessary tax breaks for big businesses without hurting the environment for small businesses.
The 26th District lies toward the southwest corner of Lake County and the southeast corner of McHenry County, and includes the Barrington area and all or parts of Algonquin, Gurnee, Island Lake, Long Grove and Libertyville.