Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis upped his fight with Disney over its self-governing powers as the Sunshine State readies to take control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
A plan was announced Friday on Osceola County’s website that said Florida lawmakers will seek legislation “increasing state oversight, accountability, and transparency” of the district, which gives Disney quasi-government control over its theme park properties in Florida.
DeSantis is expected to appoint a new board to control Reedy Creek, which has been run by Disney since its creation in 1967, according to Fox News.
“The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” Taryn Fenske, a DeSantis rep, said Friday. “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.”
She continued: “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 planned legislation will ensure that the Mouse House will pay upward of $700 million in unsecured debt accumulated by Reedy Creek Improvement District — and not Orange County taxpayers.
Disney did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
Last year, DeSantis and lawmakers voted to dissolve Reedy Creek by June 2023 amid Disney’s dispute with the governor over the controversial so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation for kids in kindergarten through third grade.
It is not yet clear how the vote would impact the new proposal. Florida’s next legislative session will start in March.
In December, the Financial Times reported that lawmakers were prepping to reverse course on the move to eliminate Disney World’s special status. A DeSantis rep denied the claim, doubling down on the crackdown.
The Florida governor “does not make U-turns,” DeSantis’ deputy press secretary Jeremy Redfern said at the time.
“We will have an even playing field for businesses in Florida, and the state certainly owes no special favors to one company,” the spokesperson added. “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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