Senate votes to lower cap on historic tax credits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Missouri Senate plan is looking to roll back a tax credit program focused on helping developers restore and repurpose old buildings, of which Missouri has had the largest program in the nation for years.

SB 590, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, seeks to reduce the cap on the tax credits from the current level of $140 million to $90 million, while also changing the process as to how the tax credits are awarded. That $90 million could rise to $120 million if the state decides to allocate more money to program in the event that the cap is met if the projects are focused toward areas of high poverty.

Hegeman’s proposal sought to put the following question before his colleagues in the chamber: At what level do the senators want to continue that funding?

The Republican senator from Cosby said that his hope was to weigh the tax credits against the other needs of the state, like education and senior services.

“This is an opportunity and a time to judge this program against the other needs of our state, such as our senior citizens,” he said.

Hegeman acknowledged that he would have liked to have seen a lower number for the proposed cap, but said that the will of the body seemed to differ from his view. When he originally filed the bill, he had intended the cap to start at $50 million.

However, opponents of the bill argued that the tax credit program has helped revitalize neighborhoods as well as create jobs.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed is one of the eight senators who voted against the bill, citing the work on Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis, where the tax credits incentivized developers to renovate buildings into loft and residential spaces.

During a visit to St. Charles, President Donald Trump spoke favorably of the renovations to the Old Post Office by Randy Schilling, a developer who used the tax credit program to do so.

The historic tax credit has been under fire in recent months, particularly by Gov. Eric Greitens, who has stated that the state’s tax credits are burdensome and unfair, and who led the decision by the Missouri Housing Development Commission to cancel the state match for federal low income housing tax credits back in December 2017.

With a 24-8 vote, the Senate third read and passed Hegeman’s bill, which now heads to the House.

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