Under the Dome

After statewide lobbying tour, historic tax credit debate heads to NC House

After months of lobbying from Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration, a debate over restoring a state historic preservation tax credit heads to the N.C. House this week.

The House finance committee is expected to take up House Bill 152 on Tuesday morning, and it has bipartisan support there. The original program – which offers a tax break for property owners who restore historic buildings – expired at the beginning of the year as part of Republican-led changes to the tax code.

The House bill would establish a scaled-back program that would offer smaller credits. McCrory included $12.2 million in his budget proposal to fund it. The governor has made it clear that the tax credit’s biggest obstacle is the state Senate, where GOP leaders are skeptical.

McCrory and his cultural resources secretary Susan Kluttz have been traveling the state to drum up support. At each stop, they ask supporters to call their senators and ask them to vote yes on the proposal. McCrory tells fellow Republicans that the credits represent a “conservative philosophy” and had support from President Ronald Reagan.

The Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, which has partnered with McCrory on the campaign, said in its newsletter Friday that the effort is paying off. More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition supporting the program, and those signing have been asked to email their senators.

Kluttz has burned up the state’s highways, accompanied in many cities by the governor. “To date, Cultural Resources Secretary Kluttz has visited 31 cities which has helped to generate 710 news stories, 29 of which were supportive editorials,” the Metro Mayors newsletter said.

Kluttz’ itinerary has included the hometowns of powerful senators. Among her first stops: Eden – the Rockingham County home of Senate leader Phil Berger – and Hendersonville, home to rules chairman Tom Apodaca.

A number of prominent GOP senators are co-sponsoring the historic tax credit bill in their chamber, including Louis Pate, Fletcher Hartsell, Rick Gunn and Ralph Hise.

For now though, the Senate bill sits in the rules committee – a place where legislation can be held up by the leadership.