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Cuccinelli backs fixing aging schools through tax credits

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli is throwing his support behind a years-long effort to allow for the rehabilitation of aging schools across the country though the use of historic tax credits.

Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general, discussed his support today during a conference call with Paul Goldman, a former chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia who has advocated for years for the change.

Currently, a federal prior-use rule blocks credits from being applied toward projects being modernized for the same use, including school-to-school renovations.

Private investors can’t apply for the historic tax credit to renovate an old school and turn it into a better school, Cuccinelli told reporters.

“They have to turn it into something else,” he said. “They could apply for the credit and turn the school into a movie theater or condos, but not a better, more usable, up-to-date school.”

The effort has bipartisan support, with the backing of Gov. Bob McDonnell, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th, U.S. Sens. Timothy M. Kaine and Mark R. Warner, former Gov. George Allen and former Sen. Jim Webb.

Still, previous legislative efforts by Virginia’s delegation to change the federal law have been unsuccessful. In 2011, Webb and Warner introduced legislation that would offer tax credits to private investors who partner with localities to modernize schools that qualify for historic designation, which in most cases requires the structure to be 50 years or older.

UPDATE: A spokesman for Terry McAuliffe’s campaign noted that McAuliffe, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, has backed the idea since 2009.

“Terry has been a supporter of this for years and we’re glad that Ken Cuccinelli is now voicing support during his campaign,” said Josh Schwerin, a campaign spokesman.