JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With a years-long renovation of the statehouse exterior finally completed, further improvements may be funded under a bill from Sen. Mike Bernskoetter awaiting the governor’s signature.
Bernskoetter’s SB 36 creates the Capitol Complex Tax Credit Act, allowing taxpayers who contribute to the Capitol Complex Fund a credit against state income taxes or those imposed on financial institutions. The credit would amount to half of the donation, capped at $10 million; any amount exceeding the donor’s tax liability will be carried forward for up to four years. The fund would expire in 2027 unless renewed by the legislature.
The bill progressed through both chambers with a month to go before adjournment and was truly agreed to and finally passed in the House on the final day of session. Bernskoetter said his fellow legislators saw the chance to incentivize investments in the Capitol and surrounding state buildings.
“There’s a lot that needs to be done. This gives people the opportunity to donate and receive a tax credit while helping the state,” Bernskoetter told The Missouri Times. “A couple of years ago in Minnesota, they did a large interior project in their Capitol. For years in our Capitol, they’ve painted over the walls and possibly covered up some decorative stuff.”
The fund will benefit five historic state buildings in downtown Jefferson City: the Capitol, the Missouri Supreme Court building, the Governor’s Mansion, the Old Federal Courthouse, and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Central Office building.
Donations would be split between two accounts: 90 percent of funds received would go toward rehabilitation and renovation while 7.5 percent designated for maintenance. The remainder is earmarked for advertising, fundraising, and administrative costs.
The statehouse received a facelift between 2018-2020 with about $27 million put toward the exterior renovation. Bernskoetter said similar projects were essential inside the Capitol and surrounding buildings.
“There’s all kinds of things that need to be done — the first lady would tell you that there’s a lot that needs to be done at the mansion. Even if it doesn’t need anything new, it always needs to be maintained like any old building,” Bernskoetter said. “In the Capitol, there’s paint peeling off the walls on the fourth floor, and there was a leak in the Senate on one of the days we actually talked about this bill.”
The language was included in several taxation bills this session, with Bernskoetter’s the only one to make it across the finish line. A parallel effort from House handler Rep. Dave Griffith progressed through a Senate committee shortly before the end of session.
Bernskoetter said there was talk about adding hearing rooms and altering legislators’ offices, projects that would benefit from the fund.
“The outside is great, but there’s a lot to be done to really bring it to its original state,” he said. “This building is 100 years old; there’s a lot of detail and work that goes into that. If people want to donate to the fund, they’ll get this credit for it.”