If elected, what specific policy changes would you enact to improve the economic climate of Illinois? Please outline your position on the use of tax incentives and give-backs to attract businesses to Illinois? Do you support the expansion of existing taxes (sales, income, gasoline) or the enactment of new taxes to increase state revenue?

Jobs & Economy

We cannot continue the practice of overtaxing people in Illinois. As Governor, I would provide some tax incentives and give backs to companies big and small to attract more businesses. However, we must support the Financial Transaction Tax to HB453 to bring in new revenue for more job creation in Illinois. I do not support the expansion of sales, income, and gasoline taxes.

Illinois has had enough tax hikes. That's a big part of the reason we face the challenges that we do. We need to lower the tax burden facing middle class families and businesses. To do that, we must fix our broken property tax system so it doesn't benefit wealthy real estate owners at the expense of middle class families. We also need to give local communities more control over their property taxes so they can meet their own specific needs and attract new businesses.

As governor, I have slowed the growth of government and used administrative actions to reduce regulations. Illinois has twice as many regulations as the states around us due to redundancy and overlap. I've already cut 15% of our regulations through executive order and the goal is to cut 25% by the end of 2018.

Illinois has had enough tax hikes. That's a big part of the reason we face the challenges that we do. We need to lower the tax burden facing middle class families and businesses. To do that, we must fix our broken property tax system so it doesn't benefit wealthy real estate owners at the expense of middle class families. We also need to give local communities more control over their property taxes so they can meet their own specific needs and attract new businesses.

As governor, I have slowed the growth of government and used administrative actions to reduce regulations. Illinois has twice as many regulations as the states around us due to redundancy and overlap. I've already cut 15% of our regulations through executive order and the goal is to cut 25% by the end of 2018.

My policy platform will be centered around three pillars needed to make Illinois grow again: more jobs, lower tax burdens and less corruption. Illinoisans will only prosper when those issues no longer drag down the budget and the economy. Those issues are all intertwined.

Illinois can't have robust job growth when pension costs and debts crowd out the private sector. Consumers can't save and companies can't invest when they are sapped by higher and higher tax burdens. And investors inside and outside of Illinois note our corruption and — not wanting to be taken advantage of — avoid the state.

Jobs, tax burdens and corruption all have to be tackled at once if Illinois is to grow again. That why my holistic approach will differ markedly from Rauner's and Madigan's. During the budget impasse, Madigan refused to negotiate "economic reforms" with Gov. Rauner and blamed the governor for holding the budget hostage to an economic agenda — as if they weren't related. Governor Rauner, on the other hand, called his own economic agenda paramount and he was willing to accept a budget with punishing tax hikes to get it. Both approaches are fundamentally flawed. The budget and the economy both matter. Lawmakers shouldn't sacrifice one for the other. Illinois needs a holistic set of policies that will transform both the economy and the budget.

Every good economic and government policy change that would salvage businesses and attract more have been filed in bills over and over again. Winning legislatively requires the Governor to lead the revolt and work tirelessly to convince the majority of Illinoisans that it is in everyone's best interest to enact major reforms. The Governor must set out the vision and goals of a new Illinois economy and connect the dots for voters to the choices before us as a state.

Illinois can no longer afford to be a fiscal outlier and among the top 5 worst places to locate a business year after year. Championing reform around the state is essential to creating the legislative pressure to get it done. I am not afraid to have the difficult conversations we must have to move this state forward. From pension reform to debt restructuring, I have already set myself apart as a leader on the important issues of the day.

As the only gubernatorial candidate who has created thousands of private sector jobs, I have put forward real plans for improving Illinois' economic climate, including a five-point plan to create jobs throughout the state, a plan to lower healthcare costs for small businesses, and changes to our tax system that will make it fairer for working families.

My job creation plan includes a focus on attracting and building up small businesses, building infrastructure, such as statewide high-speed broadband internet connectivity, investing in higher education, nurturing greater international trade for our agriculture economy, and jumpstarting manufacturing. It's especially important that we help communities that have suffered years of disinvestment, across Chicago and downstate, by giving small business owners and new entrepreneurs the attention and resources they need to thrive, like access to capital, training, and mentorship. Having engaged in building a fast-growing startup environment in Chicago, I believe strongly in Illinoisans' creativity and entrepreneurial drive as the best creator of new jobs for Illinois. We must also attract large businesses, their headquarters and facilities, wherever possible, and I have participated in those efforts in Chicago as Chairman of the city's technology and entrepreneurship committee, ChicagoNEXT.

I have publicly advocated for the Amazon HQ2 opportunity, which could create new jobs for generations to come. No one likes the competitive environment in which states and cities are pledging future tax dollars to bring current jobs, but Illinois cannot sit idle and let these opportunities pass us by. No doubt, any tax incentives offered to attract businesses to locate in Illinois must yield tangible, measurable benefits to our state, and we should continually ensure that those benefits come to neighborhoods and counties that are often left out and left behind.

Bruce Rauner has continually bad-mouthed the state and gone out of his way to invite governors from surrounding states to help him criticize Illinois. Even in his recent trade mission to Asia, Rauner continued to bad-mouth Illinois. In essence, Rauner has run a massive negative branding campaign against the state of Illinois through paid and earned media. Even with our state's many challenges, we have extraordinarily attractive features that are worth extolling the virtues of.

The best long-term incentive Illinois can offer to bring businesses to our state is making sure we double down on the most attractive feature of Illinois: our dedicated and talented workforce. Talent is what attracts companies like Amazon. But there's nothing that drives businesses away from Illinois more than the instability caused by Bruce Rauner's failure to propose a balanced budget, and the 736-day crushing blow to human services meant to strengthen Illinois families. If we want to create jobs, we must work together to rebuild from the damage done by Rauner.

To attract businesses from other states and encourage existing Illinois businesses to grow, we must stabilize our economy and invest in our people. We must commit to investing in quality public education that ensures employers in Illinois have access to a large, skilled workforce and that sets our children on a path to success from cradle to career. We must also prioritize infrastructure modernization and improvements, from roads, bridges and waterways to broadband and energy systems across our state.

The Governor should take a more pro-business stance than previous Democratic Governors. I oppose the increase of any existing taxes and would instead try to find new sources of tax revenue.

The most important way to improve our economic climate for employers and businesses is to instill fiscal stability. For the last four years, we have lived under constant uncertainty about the state's budget. That must end. We must enact real reform and make difficult decisions to get our finances under control. We can no longer have a permanent cycle of budget crisis, not pay our bills, or put off reasonable, fair tax reform.

There is no more crippling effort for business in Illinois than the stain of permanent fiscal disaster. When a company like Amazon seeks a location to open a second headquarters, it is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that should be pursued. But the reality is, tax incentives are not a strategy to rebuild an economy.

The very factors that will attract and retain companies are the strength and credibility of our finances, our political climate, and most importantly, our public sector. Illinois is the fifth largest economy in the country and it is well positioned for economic growth because we offer companies a skilled workforce, great schools and universities, a competitive geographic location, a strong transit system, and access to consumers.

There is a place in Illinois' economy for tax incentives to attract businesses to Illinois but they have to include critical guardrails such as transparency, accountability, and a proven record of return on investment. The predominant example of a tax incentive program in Illinois is the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit program, which was recently reinstated with some reforms. EDGE has the potential to be an effective economic development tool for the state but it has not been optimized because we haven't adopted formal and transparent evaluations of the program. We need to charge an entity like the Illinois' Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability with conducting such evaluations and pair those evaluations with open-door legislative sessions to review and share the findings.

In addition, all income tax credits, exemptions, and deductions with a sunset clause should require a regular review of the program in order to be considered for renewal. Armed with evaluative studies, we should propose ways in which Illinois can maximize EDGE, particularly the ways in which the program can serve Illinois communities with the greatest need for economic growth. I support reforming our current tax structure to increase revenue and make our system fairer and more progressive.

We cannot continue the practice of overtaxing people in Illinois. As Governor, I would provide some tax incentives and give backs to companies big and small to attract more businesses. However, we must support the Financial Transaction Tax to HB453 to bring in new revenue for more job creation in Illinois. I do not support the expansion of sales, income, and gasoline taxes.

My policy platform will be centered around three pillars needed to make Illinois grow again: more jobs, lower tax burdens and less corruption. Illinoisans will only prosper when those issues no longer drag down the budget and the economy. Those issues are all intertwined.

Illinois can't have robust job growth when pension costs and debts crowd out the private sector. Consumers can't save and companies can't invest when they are sapped by higher and higher tax burdens. And investors inside and outside of Illinois note our corruption and — not wanting to be taken advantage of — avoid the state.

Jobs, tax burdens and corruption all have to be tackled at once if Illinois is to grow again. That why my holistic approach will differ markedly from Rauner's and Madigan's. During the budget impasse, Madigan refused to negotiate "economic reforms" with Gov. Rauner and blamed the governor for holding the budget hostage to an economic agenda — as if they weren't related. Governor Rauner, on the other hand, called his own economic agenda paramount and he was willing to accept a budget with punishing tax hikes to get it. Both approaches are fundamentally flawed. The budget and the economy both matter. Lawmakers shouldn't sacrifice one for the other. Illinois needs a holistic set of policies that will transform both the economy and the budget.

Every good economic and government policy change that would salvage businesses and attract more have been filed in bills over and over again. Winning legislatively requires the Governor to lead the revolt and work tirelessly to convince the majority of Illinoisans that it is in everyone's best interest to enact major reforms. The Governor must set out the vision and goals of a new Illinois economy and connect the dots for voters to the choices before us as a state.

Illinois can no longer afford to be a fiscal outlier and among the top 5 worst places to locate a business year after year. Championing reform around the state is essential to creating the legislative pressure to get it done. I am not afraid to have the difficult conversations we must have to move this state forward. From pension reform to debt restructuring, I have already set myself apart as a leader on the important issues of the day.

As the only gubernatorial candidate who has created thousands of private sector jobs, I have put forward real plans for improving Illinois' economic climate, including a five-point plan to create jobs throughout the state, a plan to lower healthcare costs for small businesses, and changes to our tax system that will make it fairer for working families.

My job creation plan includes a focus on attracting and building up small businesses, building infrastructure, such as statewide high-speed broadband internet connectivity, investing in higher education, nurturing greater international trade for our agriculture economy, and jumpstarting manufacturing. It's especially important that we help communities that have suffered years of disinvestment, across Chicago and downstate, by giving small business owners and new entrepreneurs the attention and resources they need to thrive, like access to capital, training, and mentorship. Having engaged in building a fast-growing startup environment in Chicago, I believe strongly in Illinoisans' creativity and entrepreneurial drive as the best creator of new jobs for Illinois. We must also attract large businesses, their headquarters and facilities, wherever possible, and I have participated in those efforts in Chicago as Chairman of the city's technology and entrepreneurship committee, ChicagoNEXT.

I have publicly advocated for the Amazon HQ2 opportunity, which could create new jobs for generations to come. No one likes the competitive environment in which states and cities are pledging future tax dollars to bring current jobs, but Illinois cannot sit idle and let these opportunities pass us by. No doubt, any tax incentives offered to attract businesses to locate in Illinois must yield tangible, measurable benefits to our state, and we should continually ensure that those benefits come to neighborhoods and counties that are often left out and left behind.

Bruce Rauner has continually bad-mouthed the state and gone out of his way to invite governors from surrounding states to help him criticize Illinois. Even in his recent trade mission to Asia, Rauner continued to bad-mouth Illinois. In essence, Rauner has run a massive negative branding campaign against the state of Illinois through paid and earned media. Even with our state's many challenges, we have extraordinarily attractive features that are worth extolling the virtues of.

The best long-term incentive Illinois can offer to bring businesses to our state is making sure we double down on the most attractive feature of Illinois: our dedicated and talented workforce. Talent is what attracts companies like Amazon. But there's nothing that drives businesses away from Illinois more than the instability caused by Bruce Rauner's failure to propose a balanced budget, and the 736-day crushing blow to human services meant to strengthen Illinois families. If we want to create jobs, we must work together to rebuild from the damage done by Rauner.

To attract businesses from other states and encourage existing Illinois businesses to grow, we must stabilize our economy and invest in our people. We must commit to investing in quality public education that ensures employers in Illinois have access to a large, skilled workforce and that sets our children on a path to success from cradle to career. We must also prioritize infrastructure modernization and improvements, from roads, bridges and waterways to broadband and energy systems across our state.

The Governor should take a more pro-business stance than previous Democratic Governors. I oppose the increase of any existing taxes and would instead try to find new sources of tax revenue.

The most important way to improve our economic climate for employers and businesses is to instill fiscal stability. For the last four years, we have lived under constant uncertainty about the state's budget. That must end. We must enact real reform and make difficult decisions to get our finances under control. We can no longer have a permanent cycle of budget crisis, not pay our bills, or put off reasonable, fair tax reform.

There is no more crippling effort for business in Illinois than the stain of permanent fiscal disaster. When a company like Amazon seeks a location to open a second headquarters, it is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that should be pursued. But the reality is, tax incentives are not a strategy to rebuild an economy.

The very factors that will attract and retain companies are the strength and credibility of our finances, our political climate, and most importantly, our public sector. Illinois is the fifth largest economy in the country and it is well positioned for economic growth because we offer companies a skilled workforce, great schools and universities, a competitive geographic location, a strong transit system, and access to consumers.

There is a place in Illinois' economy for tax incentives to attract businesses to Illinois but they have to include critical guardrails such as transparency, accountability, and a proven record of return on investment. The predominant example of a tax incentive program in Illinois is the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit program, which was recently reinstated with some reforms. EDGE has the potential to be an effective economic development tool for the state but it has not been optimized because we haven't adopted formal and transparent evaluations of the program. We need to charge an entity like the Illinois' Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability with conducting such evaluations and pair those evaluations with open-door legislative sessions to review and share the findings.

In addition, all income tax credits, exemptions, and deductions with a sunset clause should require a regular review of the program in order to be considered for renewal. Armed with evaluative studies, we should propose ways in which Illinois can maximize EDGE, particularly the ways in which the program can serve Illinois communities with the greatest need for economic growth. I support reforming our current tax structure to increase revenue and make our system fairer and more progressive.

A substantial increase in the minimum wage. Wealthy people and corporations do not create jobs. Demand for products and services does. If people have money, businesses — even low-wage businesses, such as fast food and big box stores — will thrive. There's also a psychological benefit: People who work don't want to be on LINK, Section 8 and Medicaid. They want to pay their expenses with the wages from their jobs.

If we require a living wage, they'll be able to do that. I'm for tax incentives, but any incentive must result in jobs for Illinois residents. A tax break should be revocable if employment and payroll targets are not met.

Sales tax: I'm against extending sales tax to services. I am in favor of the county school facilities sales tax, which allows counties to levy a sales tax of 1 percentage point for school construction; 47 counties in Illinois do this. Income tax: See below.

Gasoline tax: I'm for a construction program for roads, transit and other public needs of at least $30 billion. I haven't decided how to pay for it, though the motor fuel tax is a possibility. It's 19 cents per gallon for gas (21 cents for diesel), and it hasn't changed since 1993. That 19 cents, if adjusted for inflation, would be 33 cents today. Note as well that people are driving just as much as they did 25 years ago, but they are using less fuel, so the road needs are still there, but the tax revenue isn't keeping up. Another possibility is a vehicle miles traveled tax, which is intriguing academically and probably fairer, but would be difficult to implement.

I believe that the best way to improve the economic climate of Illinois and to build a state that works for middle-class and working families is to consistently pass balanced budgets that fund all of our key priorities. Businesses will want to come to Illinois because of our educated workforce, predictable state policies, and diverse economic base. However, given Illinois' current business climate, businesses are asking for tax incentives and give-backs before making their decisions. I am generally wary of these special deals, especially because our regressive tax structure means that middle-class and working families will foot the bill. If I were to support such a deal, I would need to ensure we're not overpaying for too few low-paying jobs, create rules about where and how the business invests and hires to ensure benefits for low-income communities and communities of color, and institute a clawback mechanism to guarantee that if they don't deliver on their promises, we won't be expected to deliver on ours.

On taxation policy, I would modify the way our state collects income tax by getting rid of the absurd flat tax provision of our constitution to allow for a progressive income tax. I would also create a state-level financial transaction tax and close the federal carried interest loophole in Illinois. I'm open to a broad conversation about revenue, including rates of existing taxes, but will fight for new progressive revenue sources and carefully analyze any proposed changes to existing taxes to ensure that we don't increase the overall burden on middle-class and working families who can't afford it.

A substantial increase in the minimum wage. Wealthy people and corporations do not create jobs. Demand for products and services does. If people have money, businesses — even low-wage businesses, such as fast food and big box stores — will thrive. There's also a psychological benefit: People who work don't want to be on LINK, Section 8 and Medicaid. They want to pay their expenses with the wages from their jobs.

If we require a living wage, they'll be able to do that. I'm for tax incentives, but any incentive must result in jobs for Illinois residents. A tax break should be revocable if employment and payroll targets are not met.

Sales tax: I'm against extending sales tax to services. I am in favor of the county school facilities sales tax, which allows counties to levy a sales tax of 1 percentage point for school construction; 47 counties in Illinois do this. Income tax: See below.

Gasoline tax: I'm for a construction program for roads, transit and other public needs of at least $30 billion. I haven't decided how to pay for it, though the motor fuel tax is a possibility. It's 19 cents per gallon for gas (21 cents for diesel), and it hasn't changed since 1993. That 19 cents, if adjusted for inflation, would be 33 cents today. Note as well that people are driving just as much as they did 25 years ago, but they are using less fuel, so the road needs are still there, but the tax revenue isn't keeping up. Another possibility is a vehicle miles traveled tax, which is intriguing academically and probably fairer, but would be difficult to implement.

I believe that the best way to improve the economic climate of Illinois and to build a state that works for middle-class and working families is to consistently pass balanced budgets that fund all of our key priorities. Businesses will want to come to Illinois because of our educated workforce, predictable state policies, and diverse economic base. However, given Illinois' current business climate, businesses are asking for tax incentives and give-backs before making their decisions. I am generally wary of these special deals, especially because our regressive tax structure means that middle-class and working families will foot the bill. If I were to support such a deal, I would need to ensure we're not overpaying for too few low-paying jobs, create rules about where and how the business invests and hires to ensure benefits for low-income communities and communities of color, and institute a clawback mechanism to guarantee that if they don't deliver on their promises, we won't be expected to deliver on ours.

On taxation policy, I would modify the way our state collects income tax by getting rid of the absurd flat tax provision of our constitution to allow for a progressive income tax. I would also create a state-level financial transaction tax and close the federal carried interest loophole in Illinois. I'm open to a broad conversation about revenue, including rates of existing taxes, but will fight for new progressive revenue sources and carefully analyze any proposed changes to existing taxes to ensure that we don't increase the overall burden on middle-class and working families who can't afford it.