DeSantis Says State Government Will Likely Take Control Over Disney’s Independent District

May 17, 2022 Updated 8:27 AM ET

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May 17, 2022 Updated 8:27 A.M. ET

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that Florida may take control of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District instead of local governments absorbing the jurisdiction. 

The 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act allows Disney to govern itself in Walt Disney World on things like building codes, zoning, and electricity. Florida lawmakers passed a law to dissolve the district on June 1st, 2023.

Disney has about $1 billion in debt. State law said “all assets and liabilities of a dissolved independent
special district are transferred to the local general-purpose government.”

“Even though there are ways where you could potentially have local communities absorb jurisdiction over Disney, after seeing them threatening to raise taxes on their citizens, we are not going to be in a situation where we’re just going to be giving them locally control,” DeSantis said.

“More likely that the state will simply assume control and make sure that we’re able to impose the law and make sure we’re collecting the taxes.”

DeSantis said he would rather have the state assume control instead of local governments potentially raising taxes on residents. 

“I’m worried that they would use that as a pretext to raise taxes on people when that’s what they would want to do anyways, and then try to blame Reedy Creek, so we’re not going to give him that opportunity,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis has repeatedly said that local residents will not take on more taxes once the district is dissolved. He has reiterated that Disney will pay its “fair share” of taxes. The Governor said he would work with state lawmakers after the November election on some proposals to ensure residents do not pay more taxes. 

“Don’t worry about that,” DeSantis said. “The debts will absolutely be paid and you will see that we’re working on some proposals. I think we’ve got pretty much what we want to do.”

DeSantis and Republican lawmakers called for Disney’s special district to be dissolved after the California-based company vowed to “repeal” the state’s Parental Rights in Education Act

Left-wing activists have dubbed the legislation the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” The act provides parents more access to information to their children’s personal education experience and prevent children from Pre-K through 3rd grade from being taught about gender and sexual identity.

The bill does not only affect the Reedy Creek Improvement District. There are six special districts, including Reedy Creek, that are unconstitutional because they were established before Florida’s Constitution in 1968. These improvement districts can return to the legislature with updates to become reestablished. 

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