Gov. DeSantis: State Government Would Take Over Reedy Creek District From Disney, Not Pass On Debt To Local Districts

Toby Hazlewood

Reassurance over dissolution of Disney's 'special status'
Governor Ron DeSantisTwitter of GovRonDeSantis

On May 16 Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida spoke at press conference at Seminole State College, and during that session he addressed the proposed dissolution of Disney's special status and self-managed district - Reedy Creek.

The governor took the opportunity to reassure Florida's taxpayers that if Reedy Creek is dismantled, Disney's debt (estimated to be up to $1 billion) wouldn't simply be handed down to the taxpayer. Instead, Disney would be expected to pay up.

Furthermore, Gov. DeSantis reassured local districts that where Disney had previously taken care of providing Reedy Creek's own public services, these would in future be provided by the state government, not fall upon nearby counties to fulfil.

The press conference was convened to announce $125 million of funding to counter the shortage of nurses in the state. But as ever, the topic of Disney and its fall-from-grace with the governor, came up from the assembled press.

A hardline approach from the governor

The governor was re-stating the message that had been given during a televised town hall at the end of April, when he spoke confidently in confirming that "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 - estimates put the amount outstanding from Disney to be as much as $1 billion.

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 and reiterated on May 16.

Working through the detail

Gov. DeSantis has been working closely with state legislators ever since the situation with Disney came to a head, and they voted to dissolve Reedy Creek in April.

Commenting on the details of the proposal, the governor indicated that the finer points are still being worked through:

“We’re working on some proposals. I think we’ve got pretty much what we want to do. But I’m going to work with the legislative leaders, who are going to come in after the election, to make sure that we’re all in agreement.”

While this won't be happening quickly, it will hopefully be reassuring to residents of districts and counties nearby to Reedy Creek that they're not going to bear the brunt (or the costs).

Do you think the governor is right to revoke Disney's special status? Do you think the matter is taking up too much of the state legislature's time and attention? Let me know in the comments section below.

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