Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Friday that strips Disney of a special district that covers Walt Disney World, after the company came out publicly against HB 1557, commonly referred to as the “don’t say gay” bill.
DeSantis signed the bill after the Republican-led Florida House passed House Bill 3C Thursday in a 70-38 vote and the Florida Senate approved it Wednesday 23-16. The bill dissolves all special districts established before 1968 in the state that haven’t been re-ratified, which applies to Reedy Creek and five others. Democrats have warned that dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District could leave Florida’s Orange or Osceola counties to pay the district’s existing debts.
Disney’s property has been covered by the Reedy Creek Improvement District since 1967, giving it self-governance over land use and environmental issues and allowing it to float tax-free municipal bonds. Democrats said that the repeal of the district could leave Osceola and Orange counties on the hook for nearly $1 billion in bond debt.
DeSantis totally admitted the fact that this action was retaliatory by mentioning his beliefs that children should have “Freedom from Indoctrination.” He accused Disney of pushing an LGBTQ+ agenda and claimed the company had an “intentional agenda” to “inject sexuality into the programming that is provided to our youngest kids.”
“I’m just not comfortable having that type of agenda get special treatment in my state,” he said. “I just can’t do it.”
Before signing the bill into law at a ceremony in Hialeah Gardens DeSantis said, “You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state. We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that.”
Local officials in Orange County, Florida, have warned getting rid of Reedy Creek could substantially strain its resources and potentially lead to a 25% increase in property taxes, with Mayor Jerry Demings saying it would be “catastrophic” if the county had to absorb services that Disney now pays for without receiving additional revenue.
He attempted to downplay the impact of the repeal on taxpayers.
“We have everything thought out. Don’t let anyone tell you that Disney is going to get a tax cut out of this. They are going to pay more taxes as a result of this,” he said.
The governor punishing Disney for exercising their first amendment right didn’t sit well with Lloyd Blankfein, senior chairman of Goldman Sachs and he Tweeted:
REELated: Marvel denounces Florida’s “don’t say gay” legislation
Disney is one of Florida’s biggest private employers, last year they reported there were more than 60,000 workers in the state. The company is a major political player in Florida, as well as the rest of the country. The Walt Disney Co. and its affiliates made more than $20 million in political contributions to both Republicans and Democrats in the 2020 campaign cycle, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks such spending.
Disney was definitely leaning more to the right at that time and funneled $10.5 million to the America First Action Committee, which supports former Republican President Donald Trump while also contributing $1.2 million to support Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign, which is just about 11% of what they contributed to Trump.
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