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State Senate approves doubling historic preservation tax credit

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Senate voted 31-2 Tuesday afternoon to double the state's incentives to preserve historic buildings. 

Republicans Glenn Grothman of West Bend and Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn were the only ones to vote no, as the upper house sent the measure to Governor Scott Walker. 

The bill would double the tax credit for qualified historic preservation expenses from 10 percent of the cost to 20 percent. The governor and Legislature approved a five percent tax credit in the new state budget, and later doubled it to 10. 

The bill encourages developers to preserve historic structures built before 1936. Projects are pending in Green Bay, Racine, and Kenosha among other places. 

Based on current activity, the tax credit is expected to cost $8.6 million from now until mid-2015.

Critics fear the new incentives would drive the tax credits out of control. The bill orders the Joint Finance Committee to review the expenses in 2015. 

Governor Walker's Press Secretary Tom Evenson says the governor plans to sign the bill into law. 

The developers of the Hotel Northland were counting on the historic tax credit to double in order to be able to finance the estimated $35 million development.  The YMCA in downtown Green Bay is now talking about redeveloping the upper three levels of the building and bringing back residential units