JEFFERSON CITY • A Missouri Senate committee has teed up for debate a package of tax credit changes that could save the state $830 million over the next 15 years.
Most of the savings would come from two big incentive programs – both widely used in St. Louis -- that finance historic preservation and low-income housing development.
The Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee approved the bill today on a vote of 9-1, with Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, casting the only “no” vote.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said the bill is modeled, in part, on legislation that the Senate approved in 2011. However, it does not call for “sunsets” or expiration dates on the large development programs. That was the main sticking point with the House when the bill died in 2011.
Among the features of the new plan:
Historic preservation tax credits would be capped at $75 million a year, down from the current cap of $140 million a year.
Low-income housing tax credits would be capped at $110 million a year. The program’s cap is currently tied to the amount issued under a companion federal credit.
Brownfield tax credits for environmental cleanups would be capped at $30 million a year. An additional $10 million could be used for cleanups in distressed areas if the land assemblage credit is renewed.
Neighborhood preservation credits and a health insurance credit for the self-employed would be eliminated.
The bill also would establish two new programs – to benefit data storage centers and air export companies.
The bill does not renew the land assemblage program, which has been used exclusively by developer Paul McKee to buy property for a giant project in north St. Louis. That program is set to expire in August.
The House had a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would renew that program for six years and pump another $95 million into it. Schmitt said no similar bill has been filed in the Senate, so he did not include it in his package.
“I would have to look at all the facts” to see whether to add it later, Schmitt said.
Lamping said he voted against the package because he generally opposes adding new tax credits.
“You’re allocating money to a specific person, group or industry, and the question you have to ask is, 'Why that person, group or industry?'” Lamping said.
(The bill is SB120.)