The local leader said the Republican-controlled state legislature would take action.
Archive | He noted that the new board overseeing Disney’s special tax district could raise taxes.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to retaliate against the company by building a competing prison or theme park near the Magic Kingdom or by raising taxes on Walt Disney World and opposing a state takeover of his special tax district.
The Florida Republican Party outlined its plan, saying the GOP-controlled state legislature would move to “systematically nullify” Disney’s efforts to maintain control of the district through last-minute maneuvers.
DeSantis said lawmakers will move forward with a bill that will “make sure people understand that you can’t put your own business above the will of the people of Florida.”
The governor this year took over the Reedy Creek Development District, which has given Disney control over land surrounding its Central Florida theme parks for half a century, and installed his political allies on the Board of Supervisors.
However, in February Disney reached an agreement with the outgoing group that left the body without the power to control the entertainment company. The DeSantis administration was unaware of the deal for a month and vowed to retaliate when it became public.
The conflict between Florida and its largest employer began last year, when the state passed a new law restricting classroom teaching on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Disney opposed the law and pledged to help repeal it. DeSantis responded by targeting the Reedy Creek Improvement District. On Thursday, DeSantis said Disney “could walk out” if it didn’t like how the state was being run.
DeSantis said a new board overseeing Disney’s tax district will meet Wednesday to “make sure Disney is held accountable.”
The agenda for the meeting, posted online, says the board will consider laying off existing employees and overseeing the district’s growth.
A panel of five DeSantis appointees will direct employees to comply with the state inspector general’s investigation. DeSantis ordered the hearing earlier this month.
Later Monday, DeSantis suggested the state could build a prison or its own theme park next to Walt Disney World.
“Now that I think about it, people say, ‘Well, what should we do with this land?’ They say,” DeSantis said. “Maybe build a state park. And try to build amusement parks. Someone said, ‘Maybe they need another state prison.’ I mean, who knows? I think the possibilities are endless.”
DeSantis also said the new board overseeing Disney’s special tax district could increase taxes on the company’s vast empire of theme parks.
He suggested the additional revenue could be used to pay off the district’s current debt. It is a proposal that, if implemented, will eventually allow the state to end for good. The 1967 law that created the district prevents the state from dissolving its debt.
The district’s substantial debt, estimated at $1 billion last year, prevented the state from moving forward with a new law that would eliminate the district before this June.
On Monday, Good Morning Orlando host Simon Conway asked DeSantis if he would agree to meet with Disney CEO Bob Iger to resolve the dispute. Iger recently told Time magazine that he would agree to sit down with the Republican governor.
If Disney agrees, “they’re not going to live by different rules than everybody else,” DeSantis said. “If we can get there, great,” he said. “But we’re not there yet.”
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