Democrat Curt Renz says Illinois should create jobs with projects like high-speed rail, while state Rep. David Harris' attitude is "get government out of the way."
Renz, a Democrat from Arlington Heights, is challenging Harris for his 53rd District seat in the state House.
The district includes parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect and Prospect Heights.
The challenger says creating jobs is his top priority, something he believes the state can help accomplish with projects like high-speed rail, an extension of Route 53 and more as well as bridges and underpasses at railroad crossings in communities like Arlington Heights.
The projects should involve public-private partnerships and should pay largely for themselves, he said in response to a Daily Herald questionnaire.
"The return on investment and economic impact of productive citizens gaining full employment amid transportation improvement will greatly increase business activity and profitability," Renz wrote.
He also wants the state to support green jobs and Illinois tourism, and offer incentives for small- and medium-sized companies to encourage hiring and training. He opposes incentives for "large, profitable corporations."
Harris, however, argues that the state's pension crisis, and the fact Illinois owes $7 billion to $8 billion for back bills, must be solved before companies will consider the state a good place to invest. Otherwise, the Arlington Heights Republican said, the solution is to "get the government out of the way and let the creativity and ingenuity of the private sector create jobs."
Harris said Illinois must reduce employers' cost of workers' compensation, which he said is two to three times higher than in Indiana. He also calls for letting last year's income tax hike expire as scheduled in 2014, saying it hurts the business climate.
He supports community colleges' and high schools' efforts to cooperate with businesses for training, and backs tax credits offered under the Economic Development for a Growing Economy program to keep and attract businesses. Companies only get the tax credits in that program if they create the jobs and capital investment they promise, Harris said.
Renz said he hopes to see the income tax hike expire as scheduled, but adds that financial uncertainties, including pension issues, keep him from guaranteeing his support.