Why DeSantis wants to end Disney World’s special tax

The governor’s office did not respond to questions asking why the elimination of special districts was necessary.

Why is DeSantis trying to eliminate special districts?

DeSantis and Disney have been feuding for months over the “Parental rights in educationdubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents. The bill bans classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten through third grade.

While Disney was silent as lawmakers debated the measure, the company voiced strong opposition after Florida approved the bill in March. Other LGBTQ supporters have also denounced the bill, including President Joe Biden, and said it could expose students to bullying and even suicide.

Disney called for the bill to be repealed and went so far as to stop all political contributions Florida elected officials.

But the decision of DeSantis, a likely candidate for 2024, and the Republican The legislature represents a major escalation in the fight. It basically goes from rhetoric to hitting the corporate wallet.

What is the relationship with the special districts?

Walt Disney Co. proposed the Reedy Creek Improvement District in the mid-1960s in a remote area of ​​Orange and Osceola counties. It allows Disney to operate as its own county government and is responsible for municipal services such as power, water, fire prevention, and road maintenance. It also means that Disney does not need approval from local planning commissions if it wants to build new structures.

The reason why special districts were created is that taxpayers who do not benefit from the services of the special district are not required to pay for them through taxes.

A huge benefit of special districts is making tax-exempt purchases for the services they provide and issuing municipal bonds for major infrastructure projects at a much lower interest rate, Chris Lyon said. , a lawyer who deals with special districts.

The move lawmakers are considering would not permanently end the Reedy Creek Improvement District, but it would phase it out on June 1, 2023, and allow the special district to reinstate on or after that date.

If lawmakers approve the bill, as expected, Disney could go to the state legislature in Tallahassee next year and ask for it to be reinstated, probably with more limited abilities and powers.


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