MOLINE -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard pledges to tame House Speaker Mike Madigan if he's elected to lead Illinois.
The state senator from Hinsdale said during a meeting Friday with the editorial board of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus it is delusional to think that Democrats would lose control of the legislature even if a Republican is elected governor, which means that whoever wins the gubernatorial election will have to negotiate with Rep. Madigan.
"I know how to tell Mike Madigan 'no' and how to get a Democratic legislature to live within its means," Sen. Dillard said.
Sen. Dillard is an attorney and former chief of staff to Republican governor Jim Edgar. He's competing with state Sen. Bill Brady, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner and state treasurer Dan Rutherford in the Republican primary. The winner will take on Gov. Pat Quinn in the general election in November.
Sen. Dillard said the ability to loosen the grip on power held by Rep. Madigan and Senate Leader John Cullerton in the legislature is a skill he has honed over many years.
He promised to build a broad coalition that will bring independents and Democrats together "to save their state."
Among Sen. Dillard's policy proposals is to scrap the sales tax on gasoline in Illinois and repeal regulations that he said make it hard to do business in Illinois. He also promised to reform the tax system in Illinois to make it fairer for businesses.
Sen. Dillard said the Chicago Mercantile Exchange had paid one-sixth of all corporate taxes in Illinois in a recent year while Caterpillar had paid none.
"I'm not saying Cat ought to pay it, but something's wrong when the Mercantile Exchange is paying one-sixth of your entire corporate income taxes," he said. "We've got to look at fairness."
The Republican gubernatorial candidate supports the independent maps campaign, which is collecting signatures to hold a referendum in November. If successful, the campaign take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and under the control of an independent panel.
Sen. Dillard also said he supports a new capital bill and is not afraid of raising revenue to support it because the state's infrastructure is badly in need of improvement.
He also supports increased funding for programs that help the developmentally disabled.
But he said the state must get Medicaid spending under control. The program that provides health care for the poor costs more than education in the state budget, he said. He wants to purge the Medicaid rolls of those who claim benefits but might not be eligible to do so.
"I want Illinois to be the entrepreneurial capital of the Midwest and not the welfare capital of the Midwest," he said.
The primary election for governor is March 18, and the general election is Nov. 4.