Today Governor Schweitzer and the state of Montana sued more than a dozen online travel agencies instead of thanking them for bringing tourists to our struggling state.
According to the MT Department of Revenue, Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, and others pay bed taxes on the wholesale portion of the room as opposed to the total amount which includes their fees. The booking agencies claim that Schweitzer’s interpretation of law is incorrect and that the bed taxes should only be accessed on the amount of money taken in by Montana hotels and that the difference between the total amounts and the wholesale prices is so minuscule that it would produce only $100,000 or so for the state.
Earlier this year, at Max’s 2010 Economic Development Summit, Schweitzer embarrassed the state by publicly confronting Travelocity leaders over the dispute on the very same day that the group laid out plans to formally promote Montana.
Governor Schweitzer, your big “surplus” shouldn’t be saved by raping an industry that already contributes significantly to Montana’s economy. Sorry buddy, this time you may have to enact some cuts in state government to make up for the nearly half billion projected budget shortfall. You may have to stop bragging that you run your state like a ranch and start admitting you are biting the hand that feeds us.