May 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis suggests Florida could take over Disney's special district

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a recent speech.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Paul Hennessy via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday hinted the state would take control over Disney World's self-governing district, instead of handing it over to local governments if it is dissolved next year, WTSP reports.

Why it matters: DeSantis has been at war with Disney over the company's criticism of the state's controversial Parental Rights in Education Law — dubbed by critics the "Don't Say Gay" law.

Catch up quick: Back in late April, DeSantis signed into law a bill that would revoke the special status of Disney's Reedy Creek District, Axios' Erin Doherty writes.

  • Reedy Creek, which was created in 1967, allowed Disney to self-govern its own location. Disney can collect taxes and provide emergency services in the district, NBC News reports.
  • The new law — which eliminates Disney's Reedy Creek district and a handful of other ones — is expected to take effect in June 2023, per The New York Times.

The latest: DeSantis said Monday at a news conference that local governments — like nearby Orange and Osceola counties — won't assume control over Disney's district if it is dissolved.

  • Rather, it is "more likely that the state will simply assume control and make sure that we’re able to impose the law and make sure we're collecting the taxes," he said per WTSP.
  • “Obviously with Reedy Creek, the path forward is Disney will not control its own government in the state of Florida,” the governor said.

The big picture: Dissolving the district would force Orange and Osceola counties to provide local services that Disney currently offers, per CNBC.

  • The revenue the state receives from the Reedy Creek district (estimated at $105 million annually) would also be gone, which would mean local taxpayers would have to pay for the local services that Disney previously provided, CNBC reports.

Yes, but: DeSantis has pushed back on the idea that taxpayers would be responsible for these expenses.

  • “Disney will have to follow the same law that every other company has to follow in the state of Florida," he said. "They will pay their fair share of taxes and they will be responsible for paying the debts.”

What to watch: DeSantis said he is working on a proposal that could be ready by November.

Go deeper: DeSantis declares war on Disney

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