Boston - A surprise move by the Democratically controlled Massachusetts House of Representatives could provide more than $200 million in tax cuts and water and sewer rate relief during fiscal 1995.
On Monday night, the House approved about $220 million of the $240 million in tax cuts recommended by Republican Gov. William F. Weld earlier this year. It was expected that the legislature would reject the governor's tax cuts.
The House is currently reviewing the state budget for fiscal 1995, which begins on July 1.
But members of the Weld Administration called the move an election-year ploy that will be overturned after the November elections.
This year, the governor and all members of the state House and Senate come up for re-election.
The Weld Administration said that a provision included in the House's tax cut package will slow down the enactment of the changes, and could even rescind the legislature's commitment to the tax cuts.
To most of the tax cuts the House attached a rider saying that those cuts would not take effect until the state department of revenue releases a report on their impact to three legislative committees.
This way, the administration said, if a cut is believed to be detrimental to the state's overall financial position, the Democratically controlled committees can cancel it.
The tax changes approved by the House include an increase in the personal exemption of $500 for single filers and $1,000 for joint returns, a measure that will save taxpayers about $85 million a year. The measure would also increase the amount a parent could claim for a dependent child by $500 a year.
Another provision would parents in the state to take a tax credit for day care and other child care provisions.
One of the most welcome additions to the legislators' plan, though, will be the inclusion of water and sewer rate relief for more than 270,000 lower-income and middle-income Massachusets families.
The bill would funnel $53 million during fiscal 1995 into rate relief for communities that use services from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
The authority has been responsible for cleaning up the Boston Harbor and constructing the Deer Island sewage treatment plant since being ordered by a federal judge in the mid-1980s to do so.
The authority is paying for the two projects solely through the proceeds of revenue bond sales. The debt service is guaranteed by the flow of funds into the authority from water and sewer rates of its 43 communities.
The average MWRA ratepayer pays $545 a year for water and sewer services. The recent House decision could lower a family's assessment by $200 a year.