Days At the State Capitol Advance CRE Priorities

File Type: Article
Release Date: March 2013

NAIOP members have been very active this year, as they have been traveling to their state capitols and engaging state leaders on legislative proposals and policies impacting commercial real estate. Over the past two weeks alone, members from Minn., Texas and Wash. have traveled to their respective state capitols and effectively delivered the message that, whether it is commercial property tax adjustments in Minn., correcting inequities in the application of the franchise tax in Texas or sunsetting the Business and Occupation tax surcharge in Wash., cost does matter in making the state more economically competitive in attracting, retaining and expanding businesses.

Besides improving their state’s tax structure, all three chapters also emphasized the importance of public infrastructure in order to achieve the greatest economic benefits for their projects and communities. Their message was simple – if roads, public transportation, or water and sewer systems are deficient, commercial real estate projects and their surrounding communities may not receive the maximum benefits through growth, job creation and increased revenues from such things as state and local sales taxes.

Regarding transportation and infrastructure investments, it should be noted that the Washington chapter supports additional financing tools to meet the state’s infrastructure needs. Specifically, as one of the few states without this tool, the chapter is strongly supporting full implementation of Tax Increment Financing, or as it is better known in Olympia, “value capture financing” for infrastructure through the passage of HB 1967.

NAIOP has actively worked with the various stakeholders who may be impacted by “value capture financing” to address their concerns, such as affordable housing and environmental impact concerns, in the development of this important bill, which would allow city and counties to establish a taxing district within urban centers to support public infrastructure needs. Once established by the local government, a special tax would be imposed within that district in the amount not to exceed 1 percent of the incremental increase in value to pay for public infrastructure improvements and other public or social equity objectives, such as conservation and efficient use of water.

These NAIOP chapters are not the only ones to recognize the importance of engaging state leaders, not only within their state capitols, but also within their home districts. For example, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently traveled to Milwaukee and met with NAIOP members to hear from the commercial real estate industry and discuss various economic development initiatives, such as new tax credits for start-up business and improvements to the state’s Economic Development Corporation. The successful event concluded with Governor Walker thanking NAIOP members for supporting economic growth and job creation. He also personally committed to calling any company looking to locate or expand in the Badger State.

These chapters are making a difference, and you can as well by engaging your state legislators on policy issues impacting commercial real estate through participating in your chapter’s legislative day at the state capitol, visiting your state legislator’s district office or attending a public policy program hosted by your chapter.