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Finance panel agrees to raise Wisconsin's historic restoration tax credit

Hotel Northland. Photo courtesy: R.E. Management
Hotel Northland. Photo courtesy: R.E. Management

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - For the second time in four months, Wisconsin taxpayers would double what they give to developers to restore historic buildings, under a measure endorsed Tuesday. 

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted 13-3 to raise the state's historic restoration tax credit from 10 percent of a project's cost to 20 percent, on top of existing federal credits. That was after the new state budget in July had doubled a previous Wisconsin credit of 5 percent. 

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says the new measure would cost taxpayers an extra $8.6 million over the next two years. That's based on the current usage of the credit. 

However, some Republicans are concerned it would cost a lot more, if the tax benefits of historic restoration become more lucrative. 

Assembly Republican Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield said Missouri ended up paying hundreds of millions of dollars when that state raised its historic restoration credit to 25 percent. 

Madison developer Joe Alexander told lawmakers that it's not a giveaway to private builders. He said the increase is designed to create, "more winners, and not fewer." 

Kooyenga voted against the Wisconsin increase, along with Senate Republicans Glenn Grothman of West Bend and Mary Lazich of New Berlin.  

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