California has been a policy innovator on a lot of things -- coastal management, clean air, vehicle fuel efficiency, and now the connection between land use and greenhouse gas emissions. But in public finance and the property tax, the Golden State is a cautionary tale. Thirty years ago this summer, Proposition 13 was passed, setting a maximum rate of property taxation at 1 percent, and limiting annual increases in assessed values at 2 percent. The measure followed the property tax "revolt" in California through the 1970s, when some homeowners saw annual increases of 30 percent or more. But assessment limits are not a particularly good instrument for property tax relief, according to Property Tax Assessment Limits: Lessons from Thirty Years of Experience, the Lincoln Institute's latest Policy Focus Report. Assessment limits leave some homeowners paying more than others, even in identical homes, and encourage families not to move, even to be closer to a new job, for example, because market value is reset in the relocation process. “Severing the connection between property values and property taxes creates a new set of problems,” said Joan Youngman, senior fellow and chair of the Department of Valuation and Taxation. More effective paths to property tax relief include circuit breakers targeted on ability to pay, more deferral and exemption options, and truth in taxation to combat so-called “invisible” tax increases that occur when property values rise but nominal tax rates stay the same. The report, cited on The Boston Globe's Override Central Web site, is particularly relevant to states facing growing public pressure over property tax bills, including Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania.