As part of a press conference held earlier this week, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained that Disney will now be expected to start paying its fair share in taxes as we move forward because of a move from Republicans to push through a new piece of legislation which will let DeSantis have the power to strip Disney of its self-governance powers.
“Disney is going to pay its fair share of taxes, and Disney is going to honor the debt,” stated DeSantis. “And that’s exactly what this proposed piece of legislation will do.”
“Now, this is obviously now going to be controlled by the state of Florida, which is no longer self-governing for them,” he went on. “So there’s a new sheriff in town, and that’s just the way it’s gonna be.”
"Disney is no longer going to have self-government. Disney is gonna pay their fair share of taxes and honor their debts. … This is now going to be controlled by the state of Florida. There's a new sheriff in town." – Governor @RonDeSantisFL 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/53o8iP5GrJ
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) February 8, 2023
If the new piece of legislation is passed, the bill will end turning the Reedy Creek Improvement District into the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, and will finally conclude the promise issued y DeSantis last year to officially take control of the district.
The office of the governor stated that the special tax district, which has let Disney maintain the power to govern itself since 1967, morphed the popular theme park into “an unaccountable Corporate Kingdom.”
“Florida is dissolving the Corporate Kingdom and beginning a new era of accountability and transparency,” stated DeSantis’ office. “These actions ensure a state-controlled district accountable to the people instead of a corporate-controlled kingdom.”
A few notable points were listed by the Governor’s office in regard to the legislation:
- Permanently eliminates Disney’s self-governing status.
- Imposes a state-controlled, term-limited board – with members appointed by the governor – on Disney and its property.
- Allows the state to impose taxes on Disney for possible road projects outside of the District’s boundaries.
- Ensures that Disney pays the $700+ million in unsecured debt – not Florida taxpayers.
- Provides no control of the district to the leftist local government in Orange County, which threatened to leverage the situation to raise local taxes.
- Imposes Florida law so that Disney is no longer given preferential treatment.
- Prevents Disney from gaining more land by eminent domain.
- Creates an avenue to compel Disney to contribute to local infrastructure.
DeSantis’ office also elected to put forth another list of the powers that Disney had when it came to self-governing:
- Full self-governing status with a Disney-selected board.
- The ability to build airports and nuclear facilities.
- Acquisition of property beyond the District’s territory by condemnation and eminent domain.
- Unilateral boundary changes.
- No-bid procurements of construction contracts.
- Operating standards that varied from Florida Statute.
- Exemptions from regulatory reviews and approvals that other companies must navigate.
As the President of Walt Disney World Resort, Jeff Vahle stated in a release that the company was closely watching the new piece of legislation.
“We are monitoring the progression of the draft legislation, which is complex given the long history of the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” he stated. “Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for the millions of guests who visit each year.”