DeSantis doubles down: Disney, not residents, will pay taxes after Reedy Creek repealed

Florida governor signed bill to eliminate special districts

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Marta Lavandier, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doubled down on Disney paying taxes after he signed a bill into law earlier this month that will dissolve the theme parks’ self-government, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The new law eliminates special districts created before 1968, including Disney’s Reedy Creek, which was created by state lawmakers in 1967 and acts as Walt Disney World’s own government in Orange and Osceola counties.

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DeSantis appeared Thursday on a town hall on Fox News and he said the move to dissolve Disney’s self-government would not lead to higher taxes for residents in those counties.

“The bonds will be paid by Disney. They will be paying taxes, probably more taxes. They will follow the laws that every other person has to do,” he said.

DeSantis also said during the town hall that more legislation is on the way to deal with what will come after lawmakers voted to get rid of Reedy Creek.

The law would dissolve the districts on June 1, 2023, though it would allow the state Legislature to re-establish the districts before then.

[RELATED: Credit rating agency places ‘rating watch negative’ on Reedy Creek bond debt after DeSantis signs law ]

If it is dissolved, the Reedy Creek district’s debt obligations, revenues and responsibilities would be transferred to Osceola and Orange counties and the small cities of Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake. The legislative action prompted credit-rating agency Fitch Ratings to place a “rating watch negative” on about $1 billion in outstanding district debt.

Initial conversation on the repeal of Reedy Creek began when Disney spoke out against the signing of the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. As the bill neared DeSantis’ desk earlier in March. Multiple protests were organized to call on Disney to do what it could to speak out against the legislation and halt its momentum in the Florida legislature.

The governor again blasted Disney during the town hall for its actions against the signing of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

“I am not comfortable having one company with their own government and special privileges when that company has pledged itself to attacking the parents in my state,” he said.

The town hall came after his press secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted that Disney would pay its fair share of taxes and no Floridians would be “on the hook.”

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.