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.
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.
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.
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.