The Walt Disney Company has managed to wedge itself right in the middle of Florida’s battle for parental rights, pitting the “family entertainment” corporation against the very people it supposes to entertain. It could cost them more than Disney+ subscriptions to support a minority of loud voices who are trying to distort the facts about the Parental Rights in Education Bill.
On Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis floated the idea of drafting a law to revoke Disney’s preferred tax status in the state.
In summary, the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act created a special municipality to manage the nearly 25,000 acres of land that Disney bought in order to build their theme park. They’ve enjoyed a preferred tax status and “self-rule” ever since.
In 1967 the Florida State legislature, working with Walt Disney World Company, created a special taxing district – called the Reedy Creek Improvement District – that would act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.
Walt Disney World would then be able to move forward with its plan to transform 38.5 acres of uninhabited swamp and pasture land into a destination resort that attracts millions every year.
DeSantis says he wouldn’t consider the move to revoke Disney’s tax status as “retaliatory.” He maintains it would be part of a larger issue – reducing the influence private corporations have on government policy.
“I don’t think it’s retaliatory, I just think that Disney’s posturing has alienated a lot of people now. And so, the political influence they’re used to wielding, I think has dissipated, so the question is ‘Why would you want to have special privileges in the law, at all? And I don’t think that we should. But it’s not a matter of acting like those were really great policies. I think that those were policies over decades that were embedded in Florida’s law, largely because they wielded a lot of influence. I think because they’ve been able to do that over the years, I think that’s why they’ve gotten so, that’s one of the reasons they’ve got so far over their skis on this parental rights stuff.”
Florida taxpayers could become responsible for paying the city services Disney funds on its acreage if the law is repealed. It will be up to lawmakers and their constituents to decide whether or not that’s a risk worth taking.