Officials pan delay of Mo. housing tax credits

A decision to delay approval for millions of dollars in tax credits for low-income housing developments prompted some bipartisan criticism from Missouri politicians Monday.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission earlier this month held off on tax credits to build apartments for low-income residents shortly after lawmakers gave final approval to legislation authorizing up to $1.7 billion in tax incentives to Boeing Co. over two decades.

The housing incentives and Boeing legislation are distinct but were linked informally as part of negotiations between Gov. Jay Nixon and several Republican senators who had indicated they might hinder passage during a special legislative session of incentives aimed at persuading Boeing to build its new 777X jet in Missouri.

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Democratic Sen. Jamilah Nasheed and others object to the delay of the tax credits and contend the program helps vulnerable residents. The officials held a news conference Monday at the Salvation Army Veterans Residence in St. Louis.

Kinder, who is a member of the housing commission, was the lone vote against the delay. He said Nixon’s chief of staff asked commission members to hold off on the tax credits to fulfill an agreement made with the senators. The lieutenant governor said the decision has delayed construction of needed housing for low-income people and seniors and delayed work for tradespeople.

“We are sacrificing all of this on the spurious claim that it was necessary to do this to pass Boeing, which I think is demonstratively false,” Kinder said.

Nasheed, of St. Louis, said she is willing to do everything possible to preserve the low-income housing tax credits. She said they have helped to turn around neighborhoods plagued by drugs and gangs.

“We didn’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul for the Boeing deal,” Nasheed said. “The Boeing deal can stand on its own, so there was no reason to withhold the low-income tax credit.”

A Nixon spokesman declined to comment.

Several Republican senators have pushed unsuccessfully for several years to reduce the amount of tax credits for developers of low-income housing. Sen. Rob Schaaf, of St. Joseph, was part of the negotiations with Nixon. He said earlier this month he was pleased with the tax credit delay and that it sounded like the governor was following through on what he said he would do.

The Housing Commission’s decision affected about $14 million annually in state tax credits for 32 developments that would have 1,654 housing units. The commission delayed a vote on the incentives until at least March 13, which is about halfway through the 2014 legislative session.

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