Tax breaks for proposed Noah's Ark theme park raises concerns

Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010 12:11 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Construction has yet to begin on the northern Kentucky faith-based amusement park and already the initiative has thrust Kentucky into the national spotlight. The project is called “Ark Encounter” and the governor's decision to give the group developing the park millions of dollars in tax breaks is taking a lot of criticism; specifically whether Governor Steve Beshear can legally offer tax incentives to the faith-based park. I caught up with Governor Beshear Tuesday and he says the decision is legally sound.

Read more and see video from WHAS/Louisville.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 4:11 PM

If I am reading this correctly, this seems like a good use/agreement between government and private venture. The government gives tax incentives while the private company takes all the risk of financing the project.

Jobs are created (article says 900). Those employees pay income taxes, etc. Land values go up...government collects more on property tax, etc. This is what I think of when I think of smart government planning.

I contrast this with the Green Bay Pippen project that had no private investor willing to take the risk. Instead government sold bonds which ultimately means the tax payer is stuck with the bill if the project fails.

All cost overruns are covered by a private venture for Noah's Park. In Green Bay they are utilizing a rainy day fund for now...but it sounds like there is not much left for the next rainy day. Guess who will be stuck with the bill there?

Anyhow, I thought this article was good timing to explain what I believe is the difference between smart government and "not so smart"...

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 4:40 PM

We give tax breaks/incentives/etc for all kinds of businesses. We build 50,000 seat stadiums with tax money. I understand the division when religion is part of the equation but if you really looked into the free handouts the government is responsible for I think an ark would be the least of your worries.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 5:17 PM

Here in Oklahoma, Churches and other "non-profits" are already tax-exempt, I'm not sure about the laws in Kentucky.

So if there absolutely has to be a division of church and state.......would that mean that the state couldn't have collected tax money from them to begin with? Would it also mean that the church shouldn't have to follow any laws mandated by the state? Could sanctuary really be declared for anyone that imprisons themself within the walls of a church?

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 5:48 PM

This isn't a Church or a non profit. It is a private business that happens to be using a religious theme as a means of creating income. It's capitalism at work!

I see no problem with it.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 6:25 PM

Capitalism of the pious variety.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 6:26 PM

Its a for-profit entity. State program rebates 25% of sales tax revenues from ticket sales and other sales of merchandise. If the project is a total bust and never makes a dime, the state isn't out any money. If the project does well, the state will have 25% less sales tax revenue from the project than it would have without the rebate but there wouldn't have been any sales tax revenue without the project (and the state still gets 75% of the sales tax revenues plus income taxes from wages, property taxes, bed taxes from hotels that will see more business, etc.). Not a lot of risk to the state financially.

I suspect that the First Amendment argument is a loser. Sounds like the state would offer/has offered similar incentives to non-religious themed businesses, businesses with other religion themes, atheistic themes, etc. That and the fact that the project will bring jobs to the area prolly puts a thumb on the scale agaisnt the Constitutional argument.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 6:45 PM

I don't believe an atheist park exists ;)

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Thursday, December 9, 2010 1:21 PM

Where do I sign up to be Jesus in the parade? Now that would be an abomination unto the lord... LOL

Religions have deep pockets - I expect this venture to be around for a long time.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010 1:23 PM

Audioslaved said:
I don't believe an atheist park exists ;)

I'm pretty sure Elitch Gardens is devoid of all soul.

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