Historic Tax Credits | St. Louis Public Radio

Historic Tax Credits

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A gubernatorial commission wants to substantially scale back some of Missouri’s largest tax credit programs, which could set up a contentious fight during next year’s legislative session.

Downtown St. Louis,  looking east
File photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon

After the difficult process this year of piecing together Missouri’s budget, lawmakers believe they’ve found a way to get more money for vital state services: Cutting tax credits.

But a report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office shows that even with big changes to popular incentives, it could be years before the state saves a significant amount of money.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In just three weeks, Missouri saw the installation of a GOP legislative supermajority, the inauguration of Republican statewide officials and Gov. Eric Greitens’ first State of the State address. These ceremonies came as Missouri’s political leaders appear ready to pass seismic policy changes  – and deal with a worsening budget situation.

As is customary when I spent time at Missouri’s beautiful Capitol, I pulled together some odds and ends to provide a bit more context about the big-ticket items on the state’s legislative and executive radar.

Eric Greitens sits alongside his wife, Sheena Greitens, and Attorney General Josh Hawley and his wife, Erin Morrow Hawley.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 17 with reaction from educators – Tuition at Missouri’s public colleges and universities could go up in the wake of Gov. Eric Greitens’ announcement Monday he’s withholding more than $82 million from Missouri’s current higher education budget.

The spending restrictions, or cuts, include $68 million in core funding from universities and community colleges and more than $14 million from other higher ed programs.

Dutchtown South Block
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Two local neighborhoods — one affluent, one working class — and two local historic buildings are being considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Shell Building
Chris Yunker | Flickr

The Shell Building downtown is defined by its curved walls and thickly spaced windows. Designer Jeremy Clagett says the architecture lightly mimics the shape of a shell pulled from the sea. He also said securing its preservation helps the city’s future as much as its past.

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Few could accuse the Missouri General Assembly of languishing during its last few days of session.

In fact, the legislature’s last dash was something of a whirlwind: It featured fierce debates over bills about student transfers and abortion restrictions. Lawmakers also sent proposals on a transportation tax and early voting procedures to the November ballot. Other efforts fizzled out, including last-minute pushes to expand and reconfigure the state’s Medicaid system.

File photos | Provided by Landmarks

As the Missouri legislature debates the future of the state’s historic rehabilitation tax credit program, I would like to consider the meaning of the term “historic preservation” in the context of economic development.

In this context, historic preservation simply means the repair and reuse of high quality existing buildings.

Large numbers of useful buildings in town centers and urban areas across the region are under-performing as economic assets because they need to be repaired and brought back into productive service.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 4 p.m., Tues., March 25)

State Auditor Tom Schweich issued a tough audit of the Missouri’s historic preservation tax credit, saying that the incentive that’s refurbished countless buildings throughout the state is too expensive and structurally inefficient. 

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House passed legislation on Thursday curtailing two of the state’s largest tax credit programs. 

State Rep. Anne Zerr’s bill would reduce the historic preservation tax credit’s cap to $90 million from $140 million. That program helps refurbish older buildings and has been used extensively throughout St. Louis.

The bill would also gradually reduce the cap on the tax credit for low-income housing to $110 million from $140 million. That credit provides an incentive for developers to build housing for the working poor, elderly and disabled.

Marshall Griffin, KWMU

(Updated 12:45 p.m. Fri., Feb. 14)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has unveiled a tentative deal for a tax-cut package made with some Republicans in the state Senate, but his requirements could delay when -- or if -- the cuts go into effect.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Former state Sen. Jason Crowell, a Cape Girardeau Republican, was -- and still is -- one of the sharpest critics of the state's historic preservation tax credit program. In 2011, he compared the program to when his parents gave him a credit card "only for emergencies."

300 pixels only
Provided by Mr. Schlichter

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis attorney Jerry Schlichter recalls a time when the building that became the Renaissance Grand Hotel was a lot less grand. In the 1990s, he said, the building had broken windows and vegetation growing on the roof. It was common, he said, for people to light fires inside. Plans to renovate came and went over the years, with little success.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, a huge booster of Missouri’s historic tax credit program, isn’t happy with the bill approved Thursday by the Missouri Senate that slashes the program’s annual allocation ceiling by almost two-thirds.

But Slay's chief of staff Jeff Rainford said the mayor is confident that the state House will mandate a higher ceiling and “not anything close to this draconian” limit.