Laurel Duggan on December 2, 2022
A spokesman for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis denied reports that Florida is walking back his plans to revoke Disney’s special tax district in Friday comments to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
DeSantis signed legislation eliminating Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District in April, ending special administrative and tax privileges the company had enjoyed since 1967, following a public spat between Disney and DeSantis over a bill banning classroom instruction on gender and sexuality for young children. Florida lawmakers were reportedly planning to walk back the elimination of Reedy Creek, due in part to concerns about the additional costs it could impose on the state, according to a Friday Financial Times report.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District allows Disney to operate its own government within Disney World in Florida, meaning it collects taxes to fund its own water, roads and other infrastructure.
“Florida lawmakers are working on plans to reverse a move that would strip Disney of its right to operate a private government around its theme parks,” the Financial Times report read. “State lawmakers are working on a compromise that would allow Disney to keep the arrangement largely in place with a few modifications.”
DeSantis’ team denied any plans to reverse course on its rebuke of Disney.
“Governor DeSantis does not make ‘U-turns,’” DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin told the DCNF. “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,” he said.
The dispute between DeSantis and Disney began when then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek came out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill following widespread pressure to oppose the legislation, which activists had characterized as anti-gay. The legislation bans classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade.
Soon after DeSantis signed the bill eliminating the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney stepped away from politics and quietly removed itself from the fight with DeSantis in an apparent effort to preserve its special tax district.
Disney did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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