The move could have huge tax implications for Disney, whose string of theme parks has turned Orlando into one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and serves to further sour relations between the Republican-led government and a major political actor in the state.
For DeSantis, the attack on Disney is his latest salvo in a culture war waged against politics involving race, gender and the coronavirus, battles that have made him one of the nation’s most popular GOP politicians and a likely 2024 presidential candidate.
The dispute with Disney began with the company’s criticism of a new law banning teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as well as teaching that is not ” appropriate for age or development”.
In March, Disney announced it would suspend political donations in the state and added that it would in turn support organizations that oppose the new law. DeSantis and his fellow Republicans then lambasted Disney and defended the law as reasonable.
“Disney and other woke corporations will no longer get away with peddling their unchecked pressure campaigns,” DeSantis wrote during a fundraising pitch Wednesday. “If we want the Democratic machine and its corporate lackeys to be held to account, we need to stick together now.”
The bill passed by the Legislature Thursday would eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the Disney government is known, along with a handful of other similar districts by June 2023.
The measure allows the restoration of neighborhoods, leaving the possibility of renegotiating its future.
Democrats slammed the proposal as clear retaliation against the company and warned local property owners could be hit with big tax bills if they were to absorb Disney’s bond debt – though those details are far from clear.
Disney is one of Florida’s largest private employers, saying last year it had more than 60,000 workers in the state. It is not immediately clear how the company or local governments around its properties would be affected if the district were disbanded.
The creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and the control it gave Disney of 27,000 acres in Florida was a crucial element in the company’s construction projects near Orlando in the 1960s. company said they needed autonomy to plan a futuristic city with the theme park. The city never materialized, however; instead, it turned into an Epcot theme park.
Disney is the parent company of this news station.
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