For the first time in three years, a proposed "Capitol Complex Tax Credit" got a legislative endorsement.
On Thursday, the Senate gave its first-round approval to the proposal on a voice vote.
The measure now needs a final, roll call vote for passage, in order to go to the House.
Previous proposals last year and in 2017 never had a committee hearing, let alone a floor debate or vote.
"It would authorize to receive private monetary donations for the restoration of five buildings in the Capitol Complex," Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, told colleagues Thursday morning.
"As a qualified donor, you would be allowed a tax credit against any state income tax, for an amount equal to 50 percent of the monetary donation to the Capitol Complex Fund."
Bernskoetter said money raised through the tax credit would be used to help pay for renovations at the Capitol, Supreme Court Building, the old federal courthouse (131 W. High St., where the main floor and basement still are used by the U.S. Postal Service, but the state government has offices on the top two floors), the Highway Building and the Governor's Mansion.
Bernskoetter told Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, the Mansion will undergo work this summer.
"They're going to redo the HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) and some of the walls," Bernskoetter explained.
The Office of Administration told the News Tribune Thursday that project will cost nearly $3.3 million, and will take five months to complete.
Bernskoetter told colleagues the tax credit is capped at $10 million a year.
"In essence, it would provide $20 million per year toward the restoration of the five buildings, with the state only having to pay half that amount," he said. "It would sunset after six years," unless renewed by lawmakers in the future.
Money raised through the tax credit would be placed in the Capitol Complex Fund, with 90 percent of the receipts designated for rehabilitation and renovation work, and 7.5 percent directed to a separate maintenance account.
The proposed law would allow the remaining 2.5 percent of the money collected to be used for fundraising, advertising, and administrative costs.
Emery told Bernskoetter he always is "reluctant to create new tax credits, even though it's a noble purpose."
Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, told reporters after Thursday's voice vote she generally opposes tax credits, too, because they — along with tax cuts — reduce the amount of money needed to pay for government operations that help serve people.
But, Schupp said: "I'm OK with people getting a 50 percent tax credit to help us secure and shore up our buildings.
"I do believe that we need to take care of our physical structures."
She called the Capitol an "amazing" building and said the Mansion, Supreme Court Building and others "are, all, important things that we need to find ways to take care of in our process."