Tax credits for old buildings passes despite cost concerns

The House passed legislation renewing and expanding the tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings Friday, despite Republican objections to more spending during a budget crisis.

The bill would spend $10 million for upgrades to historic structures and buildings in “sustainable” communities.

Of the $10 million, only 10 percent can go to the rehabilitation of non-historic structures, a move intended to to preserve the intent of the original heritage tax credit program. The program was enacted in 1996 and is due to expire this year.

House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell said the state should not be paying for a new program when it is making sacrifices elsewhere in government.

“This bill spends $10 million that we don’t have,” O’Donnell said. “We’re forcing state employees to pay for this with furloughs. When we’re in a hole, we have to stop digging.”

The Senate has been waiting on House action on the credit and will now have to act quickly, with only two days to work on the bill before the end of the legislative session.

House Majority Leader Kumar Barve argued that the program is already accounted for in the budget, and will stimulate the economy.

“It’s fully paid for in the budget, it’s a public-private partnership, and it’s a tax credit for businesses,” Barve said. “For every one public dollar we invest, we will likely see 7 or 8 dollars in private investment.”

The bill passed by a vote of 113-26.

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