State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale said if elected governor he'd work on calling a truce with other Midwestern states to try to prevent them from stealing jobs from each other.
The Republican primary candidate for governor met with the Daily Herald editorial board Tuesday and said he supports offering tax incentives to businesses that are considering leaving Illinois if they promise to -- and follow through on -- creating new jobs.
But he referenced the efforts of his former boss, Gov. Jim Edgar, to try to keep governors from fighting.
"We are all one Midwest," Dillard said. "When Illinois is doing well, we buy more products from Indiana and Iowa," he said.
The issue has been a big one for Illinois as the state gave big local and state tax breaks to Sears Holdings Corp. to keep it from leaving Hoffman Estates and lost Office Depot's headquarters to Florida after lawmakers never approved a similar deal.
Getting -- or losing -- big companies and the jobs that come with them can have political consequences for officials who want to seem business-friendly.
Dillard is running against Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner for a chance to appear on the November ballot, likely against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
In the wide-ranging discussion, Dillard said he would commit any savings created by cuts to public workers' retirement programs toward the state's billions of dollars in unpaid bills. The pension cuts, which Dillard voted against, could stay tied up in court until after the 2014 election.
And the 21-year state lawmaker said he'd like to let the state's 2011 income tax hike expire as scheduled in 2015 but left a little room for compromise.
"I've said that we should roll that back," Dillard said.
"I am not one that takes those absolute, hard, no-new-tax pledges," he added. "I can't do tax reform if I don't have some flexibility that's out there, but I think we should roll that back."
Dillard said he'd be "very hesitant" to borrow money to help pay off the state's bills because the state shouldn't take on new debt.
As the candidates race toward the March 18 primary, all have tried to play up their credentials to beat Quinn in November, and Dillard has emphasized his suburban background as part of that pitch.
"While I will be a governor for all of Illinois, I think it's critical that we have a governor that finally comes from the collar counties," he said.