Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is relieving Disney of its control over a special tax zone in Orlando, Florida, ending the corporation's 55-year-reign over the district, according to the Daily Wire.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District has been in control of Disney since 1967, in a self-governing role in which it operated administrative buildings by way of a special act under the Florida Legislature.
"The District encompasses approximately 25,000 acres in both Orange and Osceola counties, servicing 24 landowners, including Walt Disney Co. and its wholly-owned affiliates," the website reads.
DeSantis will appoint five new leaders of the district and change the name to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight. Governor DeSantis said that the special privileges enjoyed by the region 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," the statement added.
The president of Walt Disney World responded to the Florida bill, by and large not addressing the specifics of the legislation.
"We are monitoring the progression of the draft legislation, which is complex given the long history of the Reedy Creek Improvement District," said Jeff Vahle.
"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," the statement said.
According to the office of the governor, the legislation permanently eliminates Disney’s self-governing status, ensures Disney pays $700 million in unsecured debt, and prevents Disney from gaining more land by eminent domain. According to the Daily Wire, the legislation also ensures the following:
- "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 the District’s boundaries.
- Provides no control of the district to the leftist local government in Orange County, which threatened to leverage the situation to raise local taxes.
- Imposes Florida law so that Disney is no longer given preferential treatment.
- Creates an avenue to compel Disney to contribute to local infrastructure."
Democrat state Senator Jason Pizzo called the legislation a form of socialism.
"It's the government controlling the means of production, goods and services, and pricing and governing over corporations. It's socialism."
Republicans reportedly dismissed such accusations, saying the change is about "transparency and accountability."
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