‘The corporate kingdom has come to an end’: DeSantis backs bill to take control of Disney’s land

If Walt Disney World thought it was going to continue enjoying its self-governing control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District in the Sunshine State, the company is in for a shock should a bill introduced on Friday be passed by the Florida Legislature.

According to the notice posted on the website of Osceola County, which shares the Disney World land concerns with Orange County, the bill would replace the media giant’s decades-old self-governance power with a state-run board, Fox News reports.

The proposed legislation has the backing of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose ongoing feud with the “woke” company has earned an almost permanent place in the national spotlight.

 

According to sources from within the governor’s office, DeSantis would be the one to appoint the board’s members.

“The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, told Fox News. “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.”

“Imposing a state-controlled board will also ensure that Orange County cannot use this issue as a pretext to raise taxes on Orange County residents,” she explained.

Under the proposed legislation, Disney would be compelled to pay more than $700 million in unsecured debt accumulated by Reedy Creek rather than pass the buck to Orange County taxpayers.

As American Wire News previously reported, DeSantis stripped Disney of its self-governance status — a perk the company had profited from for 55 years — in April after he and former Disney CEO Bob Chapek went toe to toe over the governor’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill that banned the discussion of sexual identity and gender fluidity in grades K – 3.

After Chapek was ousted from the company amid tanking stocks and his predecessor, Bob Iger, was reinstated as CEO, there was talk last month that state legislators were working to reverse the controversial decision and work with Iger to end the culture wars.

“It seems like Disney and the legislature have motivation to make a deal,” an anonymous source familiar with Florida politics told the Financial Times at the time. “Nobody wants a train wreck.”

But with the new notice, it seems the Disney train has already run off the rails.

According to a statement from a DeSantis spokesperson to Fox News, the fearless governor was never going to back down.

“Governor DeSantis does not make ‘U-turns,'” the spokesperson stated. “The governor was right to champion removing the extraordinary benefit given to one company through the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”

“We will have an even playing field for businesses in Florida, and the state certainly owes no special favors to one company,” the spokesperson continued. “Disney’s debts will not fall on the taxpayers of Florida. A plan is in the works and will be released soon.”

DeSantis’ former chief of staff, Adrian Lukis, told the outlet it was a matter of fulfilling promises.

“The governor is doing exactly what he said he would,” 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.”

“While this will be painful for Disney,” he continued, “I expect businesses throughout the state will be proud of their governor for making it clear that he doesn’t care who you are, or how politically connected you may be — no one gets special treatment in Florida.”

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