This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

In thinking about the viaduct, I realized that one way to finance at least part of a surface-street alternative would be through tax-increment financing, or TIF.

TIF is used in almost every state in the union to finance local infrastructure projects, except Washington, where it’s illegal. The legislature keeps trying to bring it back, but they keep running into a number of statutory and constitutional hurdles, the biggest of which is I-747, the Tim Eyman initiative that caps property tax increases at 1%/year.

“Overall, the biggest wrench thrown into the gears here is I-747,” says King County assessor Scott Noble.

If I-747 sounds familiar, that’s because a court threw it out last week as unconstitutional. The Governor and the Democratic state legislature, inexplicably weak-kneed at the prospect of confronting Eyman, has vowed to implement the 1% cap anyway.

I think it’s ridiculous that the legislature allows themselves to be strongarmed like this (it encourages irresponsible initiatives, like this year’s I-960), but if they’re going to do it, they might as well get something in exchange. They ought to make an exception for TIF in the process of instituting the 1% cap. Even if 747 isn’t the only thing standing in the way of TIF (there are a few other significant barriers), it could provide a political opportunity to get it back on the agenda.

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