With the state facing a $13 billion deficit and failing to pay its bills to schools and social services agencies, both candidates for 22nd District Senate agree that budget cuts and fiscal reforms are needed.
They're split, however, on how to get Illinois back on track - falling along traditional party lines over whether an income tax increase is part of the answer.
Current state Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat, supports legislation that would raise the income tax rate for individuals, trusts and estates from 3 to 5 percent and the corporate income tax rate from 4.8 percent to 5 percent. In return, Noland would seek to double the property tax credit to 10 percent. He says the plan would raise about $7 billion in new revenue over time and would reduce the state's "over-reliance on property taxes."
Republican opponent Steve Rauschenberger, also of Elgin, opposes an income tax increase, saying one is "not appropriate during the worst recession in modern history."
Instead, he said the state will realize more income tax receipts from supporting "job-friendly changes to (Illinois) policies and politics."
As the former president of the National Council of State Legislatures, Rauschenberger pointed to his efforts to modernize the sales taxes and make it more uniform across a number of states. "Modernizing state sales taxes in Illinois should give us the opportunity to equalize taxes between electronic and Main Street transactions and broaden the base of the Illinois sales tax," he said.
Rauschenberger also wants to shift state higher education funding to directly support students' tuition through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, reducing direct appropriations to the campuses. He believes the change would encourage state universities to control spending to keep tuitions affordable and "prioritize the needs of undergraduates over the desires of educational bureaucrats and professors."
Both candidates advocate Medicaid spending cuts and working to eliminate fraud and abuse in the program.
Both also say they would push for the sale of some state-owned planes and cars to save money.
In addition, Rauschenberger advocated closing one of the state's two Supreme Court chambers, now in Springfield and Chicago. He also wants to look into closing or restructuring the appellate courthouses. He also advocated studying states whose general assemblies operate with nonpartisan legislative staffs, cutting down on the number of paid employees working for House and Senate Republicans and Democrats.
Noland, who is finishing his freshman term, and Rauschenberger, who served as a senator from 1992 to 2006, are locked in a tight race for the 22nd seat.
The 22nd District stretches across the Fox Valley, encompassing Elgin and Streamwood and parts of Carpentersville, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Hanover Park.