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Montana needs $56 million over the next two years to fund Medicaid-provided health insurance. Here is how. (The figures below are readily verifiable online).

Montana gets 12 million visitors a year, about the population of Illinois. We charge a 7 percent hotel/bed tax and a 4 percent tax on rental cars.

Traveling to Chicago for vacation? You will pay a 17.4 percent hotel tax; car rental taxes and fees will be about 20 percent, plus $2.50 a day to the city. Las Vegas? 13.35 percent hotel taxes and fees; renting a car at the airport will cost you over 30 percent. How about Texas? Texas has a 10 percent car rental tax. If you fly into Dallas and rent a car at the airport, you will pay a total of 61 percent in taxes and fees; Austin, 55 percent; Houston, 72 percent. Hotel taxes and fees are 15 percent in Austin and Dallas, 17 percent in Houston. Plus, each of these states has a sales tax.

In 2018, the Montana bed tax generated over $25 million, the car rental tax $3.7 million. Just doubling them would bring in over $28 million more in revenues annually, paid overwhelmingly by out-of-staters, not us.

If we do this, tourists aren’t going to forego us and vacation in Kansas because of lower tourist taxes; they will still come in droves and not bat an eye at the added expense.

Why don’t we? Ask this your legislators today. We can corral these millions for Montana in this legislative session. There is no practical reason not to.

Tom Stonecipher

Bozeman

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