With unemployment rising, Democrat Dan Hynes is promising to bring more jobs to Illinois by encouraging innovation, particularly in transportation, agriculture and other fields where the state has a strong track record.
The candidate for governor said Tuesday he would update the state's tax credits, grants and other incentives so that they help businesses try new ideas. Hynes also said he would improve accountability, making sure that incentives either produce results or come to an end.
Releasing his "Clean Start" plan in Rockford, Hynes said Illinois should build on its strengths in transportation, energy, agriculture, manufacturing and health.
He also took several shots at his Democratic rival, Gov. Pat Quinn. He claimed Quinn played games with much-needed jobs when he failed to quickly sign a long-awaited public works program. Instead, Quinn used the program as a bargaining chip in budget negotiations, delaying action until after the 2009 construction season.
"Pat Quinn had the opportunity _ and the responsibility _ to put the people of Illinois back to work, but he failed," said Hynes, the state comptroller.
At a news conference Tuesday, Quinn rejected that criticism and said he has been working on economic development for decades.
"I know a lot about creating jobs. I don't think he knows much about it at all," Quinn said.
State government faces another massive deficit next year _ perhaps $11 billion or more. The deficit means Illinois can't even keep up with the bills from companies doing business with the state, let alone make major investments in higher education or transportation.
The deficit is one reason Hynes' jobs plan talks about overhauling existing tax credits and encouraging strategic partnerships but doesn't call for any major new spending.
"We could do more if the state were flush with cash, but that doesn't mean this is an incremental plan. It's a bold plan ... a change in our outlook, basically," said Hynes spokesman Matt McGrath.
Hynes didn't discuss the budget Tuesday, but he has previously offered a plan to cut spending and raise taxes to erase the deficit by the middle of 2012. Republican critics say raising taxes would hurt the economy and discourage job growth.
McGrath countered that Hynes' proposed income tax increase would not affect corporations or people making less than $200,000 a year. Many owners of small businesses that create jobs would not see any increase, he said.