SANFORD, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday reiterated his promise that Florida’s taxpayers will not take on Walt Disney World’s debt when and if the Reedy Creek Improvement District dissolves in 2023, teasing that he may have some legislative measures in place to prevent that from happening.
“I can tell you this, that debt will not end up going to any of these local governments. It’s not going to go to the state government, either. It’s going to absolutely be dealt with by (Disney and other businesses) that are currently in that district,” DeSantis said at a news conference at Seminole State College in Sanford.
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The governor did not provide any details, but suggested that he would have laws in place to ensure the debt would not fall to the state or to local governments in Central Florida.
“We’re going to have a proposal to kind of make sure that that’s clear,” DeSantis said.
The potential dissolution of the RCID comes after a special legislative session passed a bill to sunset six special districts across the state which were formed prior to 1968.
Under the law, signed on April 22, the six districts will officially be dissolved in June 2023, however, those districts can petition the state to be reinstated prior to that dissolution date. Despite that, DeSantis said Disney would not be allowed to self-govern.
“Disney will not control its own government in the state of Florida,” he said. “Disney will have to follow the same laws that every other company has to follow in the state of Florida. They will pay their fair share in taxes and they will be responsible for paying the debts and so at the end of the day, all we’re doing is putting them on a level playing field with all the other companies in Florida, making sure there are no special privileges, no special deals, but that debt will be honored.”
He suggested that Central Florida counties and municipalities would not have any additional liabilities from the dissolution of RCID, saying that the state would more than likely take over jurisdiction of the services provided by the special district, such as the fire department.
“(It’s) 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.