Ron DeSantis-tapped board would control Disney World tax district under plan

Ready or not, here he comes.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is poised to wrest control of Disney World’s special tax district with a reconstituted oversight board made up of his appointees.

After a public battle with Florida’s largest employer last year over criticism of the so-called “say no to gays” law, DeSantis initially called for a complete dissolution of the Disney-run Reedy Creek Improvement District. tried to

But Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature unveiled a new trick this week — renaming the RCID and stocking it with oversight board members tapped by the governor.

DeSantis spokesman Brian Redfern tweeted that the corporate monarchy is over. “The legislation establishes a state control board whose members are appointed by the governor over Disney and its properties.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Lawmakers are expected to approve the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District this week, and it is expected to be installed within two years.

DeSantis first clashed with Disney when the entertainment juggernaut opposed a bill that would have limited classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity for young children.

The governor argued that the ban — which applies to children in kindergarten through third grade — protects younger students from sexual content.

Disney opposed the legislation, which some called the “don’t say gay” law.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

After initially keeping its distance from the controversy, Disney eventually called the legislation hostile to the LGBTQ community and vowed to fight it.

DeSantis echoed Disney’s objections that House of Mouse was moving toward left-wing activism — and questioned its privileged near-autonomy.

If approved, the new district would take away Disney’s control of 39 square miles in Orange and Osceola counties, a position it has held since 1967, when construction on the theme park began.

Disney World in Orlando.
Disney is Florida’s largest employer.

Under the current Reddy Creek arrangement, Disney operates its own police and fire departments, issues bonds, levies taxes and dictates land use.

The company can also make eminent domain claims outside the district — a right that will dissolve with the new board.

The remedied body would also be barred from approving projects such as airports and stadiums, and would no longer be able to use tax dollars to fund advertising.

Demonstrators hold a sign that reads "Say Gay."
Critics ripped the law as anti-LGBTQ.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The proposal would oust Disney-approved board appointees and replace them with DeSantis-backed members for four-year terms, with no member serving more than three terms. Will not be able to.

Speakers affiliated with Disney will be disqualified from consideration.

Local officials initially worried that eliminating Reedy Creek entirely would expose local municipalities to the company’s debt obligations, but Florida lawmakers said maintaining the special district would save Disney’s nearly A billion dollar tax liability will remain.

Disney World
Disney currently has nearly 39 square miles of autonomy.

Walt Disney World Resorts President Jeff Wahle said the company is monitoring the legislation and evaluating its impact.

“Disney operates under many different models and jurisdictions around the world,” he said in a statement, “and regardless of the outcome, we are committed to providing the highest quality experience to the millions of guests we visit each year.” are.”

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