West Virginia’s lawmakers, looking squarely at a $500 million budget deficit, spent plenty of time during the recent legislative session talking about how sparking economic activity is the longer-term answer to the state’s financial struggles. There’s no question they are correct about that; lack of economic growth and the decline in the coal industry in particular has hurt the state’s revenue picture.
So it was disappointing to see that the legislature was unable to make one change in state law that might have fueled more business investment, created more jobs and added to the state’s coffers to some degree – with no significant cost.
Senate Bill 238 called for increasing the tax credit for rehabilitating historic commercial buildings from the current 10 percent of qualified project costs to 25 percent starting next year. It was a change sought by various groups, including city officials and developers in Huntington.
Their reasoning was simple: A larger tax credit could be the difference in whether a project is considered financially feasible by people hoping to upgrade or give new life to an historic building. In short, its supporters saw it as a means to spark more economic activity.