A bit of newly released legislation made public by Republicans in Florida this past Monday seeks to give Governor Ron DeSantis the power to officially appoint all five leaders of Disney’s tax district located in Orlando and will officially change the name of the district.
This bill will shift the Reedy Creek Improvement District into being the Central Florida Tourism Oversight and will finally deliver on a promise from DeSantis that was made last year to gain control of the district.
The office of the governor stated that the unique special tax district, which has let Disney maintain the power to govern itself since back in 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,” explained DeSantis’ office. “These actions ensure a state-controlled district accountable to the people instead of a corporate-controlled kingdom.”
DeSantis’ office stated that the new legislation:
- Imposes Florida law so that Disney is no longer given preferential treatment.
- Prevents Disney from gaining more land by eminent domain.
- Creates an avenue to compel Disney to contribute to local infrastructure.
- 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.
- Provides no control of the district to the leftist local government in Orange County, which threatened to leverage the situation to raise local taxes.
The governor’s office also put out another list of some of the powers that were previously wielded by Disney when they had the power to govern themselves:
- Unilateral boundary changes.
- No-bid procurements of construction contracts.
- Operating standards that varied from Florida Statute.
- Exemptions from regulatory reviews and approvals that other companies must navigate.
- Full self-governing status with a Disney-selected board.
- The ability to build airports and nuclear facilities.
- Acquisition of property beyond the District’s territory by condemnation and eminent domain.
As the President of Walt Disney World Resort, Jeff Vahle claimed in a recent release that the company was very closely watching 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 stated. “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.”