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House Passes Economic Stimulus Package Without GOP Support
Historic Preservation Blog from PreservationDirectory.com - economic stimulus package, House of Representatives, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Buildings, Main Street Reinvestment, Historic Tax Credits
Contributed By: The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Department of Public
Email The Author: pr@nthp.org
Website: http://www.nthp.org

The House passed an $816 billion economic stimulus package by a margin of 244-188 that did not include a single Republican member vote on January 28th. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) includes elements that track closely with the National Trust’s proposed preservation stimulus package.

The Senate completed marking up its version (S. 1) of the stimulus plan this week which closely mirrors the House, but includes a one-year patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Under previous tax law, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) increased the cost of implementing housing programs financed in part with tax-exempt housing bonds for projects utilizing both the low-income and federal rehabilitation tax credits. However, Congress passed a housing and economic recovery bill (P.L. 110-289) last year that allows the low-income housing tax credit and the rehabilitation tax credit to be used to offset the AMT and ensure that interest on tax-exempt housing bonds is not subject to the tax.

The Senate is expected to vote on their version of the stimulus package next week and then proceed directly to conference with the House to reconcile the differences between the two bills. The AMT patch raised the cost of the Senate bill to $888 billion.

Below is a summary of the provisions in the House-passed bill and some in the Senate mark up that correspond to policy topics areas below and more extensively mapped out in the National Trust’s stimulus plan, which is available for review at http://www.preservationnation.org/takeaction/ advocacy-center/platform/economic-stimulus.html.

Summary Provisions of Trust Stimulus Package in H.R. 1 and S. 1

  1. Renewed Investment in America's Historic and Older Public Buildings and Infrastructure
    • $14 billion for a School Modernization and Repair Program. $1.5 billion for energy sustainability and efficient grants and loans to help school districts, institutes of higher education, local governments and municipal utilities implement projects that will make them more energy efficient.
    • $6.7 billion for renovations and repairs to federal buildings with at least $6 billion focused on increasing energy efficiency and conservation.
    • $25 billion for Financial Assistance for National Recovery Zones to create two new types of bonds: recovery zone infrastructure bonds and recovery zone facility bonds. 1) Recovery zone infrastructure bonds would be a new type of tax credit bond which would be used to finance public infrastructure improvements within national recovery zones that would facilitate economic development within that zone. 2) Recovery zone facility bonds would be a new type of tax-exempt private activity bond for capital investments in a national recovery zone.
    • $16 billion to perform energy-efficient retrofitting of public and lowincome housing
      • $6.9 billion for Local Government Energy Efficiency Block Grants to help state and local governments make investments that make them more energy efficient.
      • $2.5 billion for a new program to upgrade HUD-sponsored, low-income housing to increase energy efficiency, including new insulation, windows and furnaces (funds to be competitively awarded).
      • $6.2 billion to weatherize low-income homes.
  2. Main Street Reinvestment Grants for Strengthening Communities
    • $4.2 billion for neighborhood stabilization to help communities purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed, vacant properties in order to create more affordable housing and reduce neighborhood blight.
    • $1.5 billion for HUD’s HOME investment Partnerships to help local communities building and rehabilitate low-income housing using green technologies (funds distributed by formula)
    • $1 billon for Community Development Block Grants for community and economic development projects.
    • $1.05 billion annual increase in the New Markets Tax Credit to spur community development
  3. Historic Tax Credit Improvements for Jobs, Housing and Investment
    • The National Trust proposed an expansion of the non-business energy tax credit under Sec. 25C of the Internal Revenue Code to fund not only new equipment, such as Energy Star-rated hot water heaters or new windows, but also include the labor and material costs of more traditional weatherization in existing residences — such as retrofitting windows and doors and insulating walls, for example. This credit was originally created under Section 1333 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the Trust proposed increasing the 10% credit capped at $500 to a 20% credit with a maximum cap of $5,000 to provide enough incentive for owners of homes 30 years or older to make appropriate energy-efficiency retrofits. The House and the Senate economic recovery packages include a modified version of the Trust’s proposal for the non-business energy tax credit that would increase its value to 30 percent for 2009 and 2010 and set the perdwelling limit of $1,500 per taxpayer. The provision is scored at $4.3 billion over ten years.
    • The National Trust is also working with Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who sponsored the “Community Restoration and Revitalization Act of 2007” in the 110th Congress, to introduce an amendment to the Senate’s stimulus package that would make some of the changes to the federal rehabilitation tax credit advocated by the National Trust, including:
      • Increasing the rehab credit for small deals to 40% in which qualified rehab expenditures do not exceed $2 million;
      • Allowing the 10% credit non-historic credit to be used for rental housing – inside Difficult to Develop Areas (DDAs) and Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) – and changing the rule in the tax code allowing buildings built after 1936 (that are at least 50-years old) to be eligible for the rehab credit;
      • Increasing the 20% historic and 10% non-historic credits to 26% and 13%, respectively, nationwide; and
      • Eliminating any recapture that results from foreclosure.
  4. Historic Preservation Fund Emergency Jobs Program
    • $50 million provided to the States and $5 million for the Tribes in the Senate bill (S. 1). No similar provision in the House bill.
  5. Federal Incentive Funding for State Rehab Tax Credit Programs
    • No funding was provided in either the House or Senate bill to bolster existing state rehab tax credits.
  6. Disaster Assistance for Iowa and Texas
    • No direct grant assistance was provided for historic buildings in the flood disaster areas in Iowa and Texas. However, these areas would benefit from the Trust’s proposed increase in the federal rehab credit to 26% and 13%. In addition, these areas are potentially eligible for the National Recovery Zone Bonds included in the House bill, which were expanded to include any area of “general distress”, rather than areas hit specifically by job losses.
  7. Public Land Investments for Jobs, Energy Delivery and Revitalization
    • $3.1 billion for infrastructure projects on federal lands, including $200 million for the preservation and repair of buildings of cultural and historic importance within the National Park Service. Overall, $1.8 billion will be provided for operation of the National Park Service, including $325 million for the Bureau of Land Management.)

Reprinted by permission of the Public Policy Department of the National Trust


Keywords: economic stimulus package, House of Representatives, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Buildings, Main Street Reinvestment, Historic Tax Credits

Posted: February 2, 2009
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