DeSantis vs. Disney: Governor says state will take over Reedy Creek Improvement District

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday the state, rather than any local government, would take control of a taxing district that benefits Walt Disney Co. when the district is dissolved next year.

The governor says he wants Disney to pay that district's debt instead of taxpayers. DeSantis was in Sanford on Monday and said he's working on a proposal to make sure Disney's debt isn't passed along to taxpayers in Orange and Osceola counties.

"We're working on some proposals. I think we've got pretty much what we want to do," DeSantis said. "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."

The Reedy Creek Improvement District is set to dissolve in June 2023 after he signed a bill to disband the company’s private government, but it's still unclear who will assume control and who will be responsible for the jurisdiction's roughly $1 billion in debts.

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Local officials said property taxes would go up if the plan moved forward because the debit would fall on the counties. State law requires that when special districts are abolished, their assets and liabilities go to local governments. 

Disney vs DeSantis

The governor claims he will release a proposal that would have Disney pay off its debts and have the state take over. 

"Disney will not control its own government in the state of Florida. Disney will have to follow the same laws that every other company has to follow in the state of Florida and they will pay their fair share of taxes," DeSantis said.

Democrats say the plan is unnecessary retaliation after Disney spoke out against the governor's Parental Rights in Education law, which critics call the "Don’t Say Gay" law.

Encompassing 38.5 miles in Osceola and Orange counties, Reedy Creek was created to allow Disney to handle issues from land use and wastewater services to fire protection and transportation without interference from local governments.