DeSantis Reacts to Suggestion that Revoking Disney Tax Status Will Cost Taxpayers $1Billion: "Disney Will Pay Its Debts"

Toby Hazlewood

More legislation is coming says the governor
Governor Ron DeSantisShutterstock

In a Town Hall meeting televised by Fox News on April 28, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida addressed concerns that the state's recent plan to revoke Disney's special tax status will add $1 billion to the tax burden of the state's citizens. His position was clear and unequivocal:

"Disney will pay its debts"

The "Don't Say Gay" disagreement

Disney's self-governing status in Florida is under threat from the state's legislature as a result of responses from Disney leaders to so-called "Don't Say Gay" legislation that's coming into force in the state.

It has been suggested that in revoking this status, outstanding debts owed by Disney as a result of dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District might instead become the responsibility of Florida's citizens.

It was also suggested that bills for public services for Disney would become the responsibility of citizens living nearby, where Disney have previously been providing these for themselves.

The governor clearly has other ideas, which he shared on April 28.

Swift and decisive action from DeSantis

Many have been surprised by the speed with which Florida legislators acted to dissolve Disney's Reedy Creek Improvement District which it has been able to largely govern for itself since 1967. The dissolution will take effect from June 1 next year.

As he hinted at the forthcoming dissolution, Gov. DeSantis was clear about his motivation for taking on the corporation:

"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."
Governor Ron DeSantisShutterstock

More legislation to come

The governor asserts that all outstanding bills will be paid by Disney themselves. He has also suggested that the Disney tax liability may increase as a result of them no longer being able to self-govern as they've been allowed to.

He has since confirmed that further legislation will be forthcoming from the state legislature to enforce this.

His closing remarks at the Town Hall event in Orlando, televised by Fox News illustrate that rightly or wrongly, Governor DeSantis sees this as a necessary change and one that he hopes will redress the power dynamic between Disney and Florida in the long term:

“Maybe this will be the wake-up call that they need to get back on track.”

What do you think of Governor DeSantis revoking Disney's special tax status within Florida? Do you think he is right to stand up to the corporation for their response to so-called "Don't Say Gay" legislation? Let me know in the comments section below.

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