On Friday, the DeSantis administration filed a notice of intent to introduce legislation that will end Disney’s special status in Florida.
The administration is working with the Florida Legislature to cover all aspects of a dismantling of the Disney self-governing construct – known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District – and preventing costs from being passed down to taxpayers. The plan is to replace the Disney “government” with a state-run board appointed by the governor.
According to sources in the administration, the decision to form a board instead of letting the district dissolve was based on low trust in the local governments. When Governor DeSantis first indicated that he was going after Disney’s special status, statements were made that suggested that Orange County would pass on costs incurred by the dismantling of Reedy Creek to residents.
In the new legislation, the DeSantis administration is determined to strip Disney of all special privileges and make sure that the company resolves its $700 million in unsecured debt.
“I think the governor’s approach is very smart,” Adrian Lukis, DeSantis’ former chief of staff, told The Florida Standard. “He’s not backing off of anything and he means what he says.”
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was created in 1967 and gave Disney a mandate to hold administrative powers similar to a county government over nearly 40 square miles of land in Osceola and Orange counties.
Recent political and social activism by Disney intended to interfere with Florida legislation has propelled the governor to go after the entertainment giant with full force.
“The corporate kingdom has come to an end. 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. 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,” Governor DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske said in a statement.