Arizona's economic recovery has been painfully slow, and it hasn't been helped by either party in Washington.

While Arizona's small businesses have had to find innovative ways to work through tough times, the chronic politicians in Washington have dropped any attempt of trying to work for the greater good.

I want to form a "coalition of the reasonable" in the Senate, comprised of members of both parties ready to take immediate steps to grow our economy and create jobs. And the first thing that coalition should look at is small businesses.

Small businesses will drive our state's recovery. According to the Small Business Administration, there are nearly 500,000 small businesses in Arizona - representing 97.2 percent of the employers and 46 percent of the private-sector work force.

Some small businesses have an enormous burden of taxes while many large companies pay little and, in some cases, nothing. To fix that, we should lower our corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the world, while getting rid of special breaks for the richest companies. That way, we'll be infusing the actual job creators with capital while ensuring that everyone pays their fair share. We should also be expanding hiring incentives for small businesses that want to grow, but are scared by the risk of hiring new employees.

Those are some immediate steps we can take, but we also need to ensure our future economic security. To do that, we need comprehensive tax reform that makes our tax code simpler and fairer, invest in infrastructure and expand educational opportunities to make sure we have a quality workforce.

We also face the sad reality that in a state where approximately 10 percent of our population is veterans, nearly 30 percent of the young veterans returning home from war are unemployed. In the United States, that's unforgivable.

When I came home from Vietnam, the GI Bill allowed me to go to college and medical school. But Congressman Flake has voted against veterans' benefits for health care, education and job training. Congressman Flake even voted against the post-9/11 GI Bill. To me, that just doesn't make any sense.

Our veterans are skilled workers who have already shown an ability to work successfully and collaboratively in extremely tough conditions. We should be providing job training and education to our veterans - and letting their skills and hard work lead Arizona back to prosperity.

The Star invited Arizona's three U.S. Senate candidates to answer that question.

We'll also publish guest commentaries from the Senate candidates on the next two Sundays - Sept. 23 and Sept. 30. We'll follow that with three Sundays of opinion pieces by House candidates.

Democrat Richard Carmona is vice chairman of Canyon Ranch Institute; a professor in the Arizona College of Public Health; and a deputy Pima County sheriff.