Under the Dome

McCrory tries to rally historic tax credit support

Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday called on the state Senate to pass a historic tax credit plan that has languished in the legislature since March.

House Bill 152 would create a scaled-back version of the tax credit, which expired at the beginning of the year as part of a Republican-led tax reform effort. The new credits would pay property owners less than the original program, with an expected annual cost to the state of $8 million. The available credit would be larger in the state’s poorest counties.

The House passed the bill in a 98-15 vote on March 26, but the Senate referred it to the Ways and Means Committee, which never meets.

“I’m getting impatient, that’s why I took off my tie,” McCrory told a group of about 100 tax credit supporters. “We shouldn’t even have a fight about it. ... We need action today. Go to the legislature!”

McCrory’s cultural resources secretary, Susan Kluttz, said she’s made 73 trips to 52 towns across the state to solicit support for the tax credits.

“Every single one has critical needs for the tax credits to continue,” she said. “These buildings tell the story of North Carolina, and North Carolinians value that history.”

Rep. Stephen Ross, a Burlington Republican who sponsored the bill, spoke about a long-vacant furniture factory in Mebane that’s being converted into 157 apartments using the tax credit.

“This is critical for a town like Mebane that was struggling to bring their downtown back to life,” he said.

Ross criticized the Senate’s handling of his bill. “It has never had a hearing, and has never been to a committee,” he said. “A bill like this deserves to have a fair hearing – vote it up or down.”

Opponents of the program say lower tax rates across the board are a better way to expand the economy. But there are signs the Senate could be softening its opposition to tax credits: An economic development plan it passed this week, touted as a compromise, includes tax benefits for airlines and technology data centers.

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