Newly released legislation by Florida Republicans on Monday will allow Governor Ron DeSantis to appoint all five leaders of Disney’s tax district in Orlando and will officially rename the district.
The bill will turn the Reedy Creek Improvement District into the the Central Florida Tourism Oversight and will deliver on DeSantis’ promise last year to take over the district.
DeSantis’ office said that the special tax district, which has allowed Disney to govern themselves since 1967, turned the theme park into “an unaccountable Corporate Kingdom.”
“Florida is dissolving the Corporate Kingdom and beginning a new era of accountability and transparency,” DeSantis’ office said. “These actions ensure a state-controlled district accountable to the people instead of a corporate-controlled kingdom.”
DeSantis’ office said that 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.
- The Orange County leftist-leaning local government threatened to take control and raise taxes by threatening to exploit the situation.
- Florida law is amended to ensure that Disney does not receive preferential treatment.
- Disney cannot gain more land through eminent Domain
- It creates an opportunity for Disney to make a contribution to the local infrastructure.
DeSantis’ office also released a list of some of the powers that Disney previously had when they governed themselves:
- Fully self-governing with a Disney-selected Board
- Ability to construct airports and other nuclear facilities.
- Acquisition of property beyond the District’s territory by condemnation and eminent domain.
- Unilateral boundary changes
- Contracts for construction can be purchased without any bidding.
- Florida Statute does not provide for different operating standards.
- Other companies may need to navigate for exemptions from regulatory approvals and reviews.
In a statement, Jeff Vahle (President, Walt Disney World Resort) stated that they were closely monitoring the legislation.
“We are monitoring the progression of the draft legislation, which is complex given the long history of the Reedy Creek Improvement District,”He said. “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.”
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