- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Using a nostalgic locale as his backdrop, Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday that he would propose restoring tax credits for historic homes and businesses when he addresses North Carolina lawmakers in his State of the State speech.

McCrory made his proposal on a stairway in the foyer of the Hotel Concord, once a downtown destination where McCrory said he and his family used to enjoy Sunday brunch with several other families. While the hotel’s lower levels are now used to host events, it currently doesn’t accept guests in its 200 rooms.

“When I bring an executive who’s considering investing in this region or any other region of the state, they want to come to an area that they want to bring their family,” McCrory, accompanied by Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz and Concord Mayor Scott Padgett, told a group of supporters. “And the first place they want to go to is the center city, to see is there blight or decay or is there a future.”

He said the tax credits would be a part of his budget when he presents details to legislators Wednesday night, and he urged supporters of the credits to come to Raleigh to help plead the case.

“Now is not the time to stop it. Now is the time to expand it,” McCrory said.

The governor blamed the loss of credits on efforts by lawmakers to attach other measures to the legislation that would have extended the credits beyond Jan. 1.

“A lot of people were putting a lot of Christmas ornaments on a bill and there were several reasons why this and the major economic development bill failed to get the votes,” McCrory said.

House members supported a pared-down version of the program, but the Senate declined to keep the measure alive. Senate Republicans have generally resisted similar credits. At the time, State Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, said his colleagues declined to restore the credits in part because it didn’t fit with the legislature’s move away from tax policies that benefit certain groups.

Rucho had suggested that lawmakers consider whether North Carolina should appropriate funds to help improve aging buildings rather than extend the credit.

Kluttz described the lack of tax credits for historic homes and businesses as “a crisis in Raleigh.”

“They need to be brought back,” she said. “It’s especially critical for the small, rural area. It’s their only hope.”

Kluttz added that more than $1.6 billion in private investments were made while the credits were in effect, and that 90 of the state’s 100 counties took advantage of the program.

Kluttz said the tax credits she and McCrory are touting are not the kind of credits that make legislators cringe, adding that this plan has bipartisan support.

“The problem is, that we’ve run into in Raleigh is a philosophy of tax reform, that there should be no tax credits of any kind in the state,” she said. “We believe these tax credits are very different. These are economic development, jobs. These are authentic tourism.”


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