OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 11:08 AM PT – Friday, January 6, 2023
A plan to replace Walt Disney World’s self-governing power with a state-run board was announced on Friday.
The notice, was posted on the Osceola County website, the county in which Disney World is located.
The effort from Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) will mandate that the district’s board members be appointed by the governor’s office moving forward.
“The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske said. “Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes.”
The new legislation will also ensure Disney will have to pay upwards of $700 million in unsecured debt that Disney’s special jurisdiction has accumulated.
“The governor is doing exactly what he said he would,” former DeSantis Chief of Staff Adrian Lukis said. “Disney can no longer have its own government and own taxing authority, and Disney — not taxpayers — will have to be responsible for any financial consequences.”
Last year, the Florida governor had signed a measure into law that had dissolved Walt Disney World’s special governing power. The measure was signed after the company had opposed the parental law that had gone into effect in Florida.
DeSantis had said that Disney had lied to the public about the law’s contents.
“While this will be painful for Disney, I expect businesses throughout the state will be proud of their governor for making it clear that he doesn’t care who you are,” Lurkis explained. “or how politically connected you may be — no one gets special treatment in Florida.”
A report in December had claimed that lawmakers in Florida were reversing course and moving forward with the Disney legislation, but a spokesperson had explained that governor DeSantis does not reverse course.
“Governor DeSantis does not make ‘U-turns,’” a spokesperson had said in a statement. “The governor was right to champion removing the extraordinary benefit given to one company through the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
The Reedy Creek Improvement Act had been signed into law in 1967 by Governor Claude Kirk (R-Fla.). Disney had proposed building a recreation-oriented development on 25,000 acres in a remote area of Central Florida’s Orange and Osceola counties.
The counties did not have the resources to bring the project to life. State legislatures had worked with Disney and established the Reedy Creek Improvement District. This was a special taxing district that allowed the company to act as a county government within that district.
Reedy Creek is currently overseen by a five-member Board of Supervisors that have been chosen by the company.