This past Friday, a plan was unveiled to introduce a bill into the Florida Legislature that would replace Walt Disney World’s special self-governing power with a state-run board. The announcement was posted on the website of Osceola County, one of the counties which Disney World resides in.
Last year, DeSantis signed into law a measure that effectively dissolved Walt Disney World’s special self-governed tax district after the corporation opposed the governor’s parental right’s in education bill. The entertainment company vowed to fight the bill, to which DeSantis wielded his power to punish Disney.
DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske told Fox News:
“The corporate kingdom has come to an end. Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes.”
“Imposing a state-controlled board will also ensure that Orange County cannot use this issue as a pretext to raise taxes on Orange County residents.”
The notice on the website states:
Reedy Creek Improvement District
Notice is hereby given of intent to seek legislation before the Florida Legislature, during a regular, extended, or special session, of an act relating to the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Orange and Osceola Counties; amending, reenacting, and repealing Chapter 67-764, Laws of Florida, and decree in chancery no. 66-1061 (May 13, 1966); removing and revising powers of the District; increasing state oversight, accountability, and transparency of the District; revising the selection process, membership qualifications, and compensation for the governing body of the District; ensuring debts and bond obligations held by the District remain with the District and are not transferred to other governments by retaining the District’s authority related to indebtedness and taxation; revising the District’s authority over local permitting and regulation; revising the District’s regulatory framework and structure; instituting reporting requirements, including a review of the District’s remaining powers; describing the District boundaries and name; revising exceptions to general law and certain special acts; removing duplicative provisions; making conforming changes; creating an exception to general law; providing an effective date.
Apparently, the legislation will dictate that Disney is responsible for paying upwards of $700 million in unsecured debt accumulated by the corporation’s special district. The Orange County taxpayers will not be responsible for shouldering this financial burden according to sources.
DeSantis’ former Chief of Staff stated:
“The governor is doing exactly what he said he would. Disney can no longer have its own government and own taxing authority, and Disney — not taxpayers — will have to be responsible for any financial consequences.”
“While this will be painful for Disney, I expect businesses throughout the state will be proud of their governor for making it clear that he doesn’t care who you are, or how politically connected you may be — no one gets special treatment in Florida.”
A DeSantis spokesperson said:
“Governor DeSantis does not make ‘U-turns. The governor was right to champion removing the extraordinary benefit given to one company through the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
“We will have an even playing field for businesses in Florida, and the state certainly owes no special favors to one company. Disney’s debts will not fall on the taxpayers of Florida. A plan is in the works and will be released soon.”
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