Despite the short-term hit that reauthorizing the Historic Preservation Investment Tax Credit delivered to state finances, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and the General Assembly did the correct thing in the fiscal 2014 budget by restarting the program.
Developers that claimed $34.5 million in abandoned credits are expected to generate $180 million in spending for the Rhode Island economy, and they are putting people to work now.
That is why the decision by House leadership not to authorize developers to claim another $52 million in credits in fiscal 2015 is so difficult to understand.
Yes, Rhode Island is facing, yet again, a difficult budget situation. But balancing the budget at the expense of such a proven winner is extremely shortsighted.
Never mind that the expected construction spending of the program that would be generated by the next crop of programs is estimated to be $160 million (and that does not include sales and employment taxes). And yes, there is a next crop. Twenty-seven projects ended up on a waiting list for fiscal 2014.
Never mind that hundreds of people in the building trades would be employed, reinvigorating the Ocean State’s valuable, if run-down, built spaces.
This type of investment helps create living and working spaces that are a competitive advantage for the state – among others, the next generation of startups and their employees like to live and work in these rehabbed buildings. Stop investing in our urban landscape, and growth will easily go somewhere else.
As of press time, the budget was not yet completed and did not include the program. It would be a grave mistake not to reinstate it. •