Lately, much of the news surrounding Walt Disney World’s relationship with its home state, Florida, has been controversial. Following Disney’s statement against the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” Republican politicians from around the country have been speaking out against the Walt Disney Company and the special privileges the Disney Parks have historically received in the United States.
At home in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis introduced and successfully passed legislation last month to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, effective in 2023. The Reedy Creek Improvement Act of 1967 allowed Walt Disney World to pay for and operate its municipal services privately, saving the state of Florida and its taxpayers billions of dollars.
Taxpayers have not taken this news quietly. Last week, a group of residents filed to sue, claiming that Governor DeSantis infringed on their rights by passing this bill, which would force the local government to take on at least $1 billion of Disney’s bond debt and increase funding for emergency and municipal services.
Today, May 9, a Lakeland resident named Mark Dempsey published a letter in The Lakeland Ledger, a newspaper centered around the town of Lakeland, which is about 45 minutes from the Walt Disney World Resort. He claimed Floridians now see DeSantis’ “true character.”
Dempsey wrote that Republican reaction to Disney’s condemnation of the “Don’t Say Gay” law shows that they don’t honestly believe in the First Amendment, which protects free speech without government backlash or punishment.
“For its use of constitutionally protected speech, Disney was financially punished by Florida,” Dempsey wrote. “An agreement that the state had in place with Disney since 1967 was shredded for political purposes in a matter of days.”
He further stated he believes the filed lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis will succeed, and the courts will decide that the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District was an act of retaliation against protected free speech that constitutes an abuse of power:
“DeSantis is trying to score political points with the Republican base by attacking “woke” Disney, but his vindictiveness will ultimately fail. The courts will no doubt see his misguided actions as an abuse of power.”
Dempsey also mentioned that Walt Disney World is Florida’s largest employer and that companies who previously saw the state as “business-friendly” may change their minds now that Governor DeSantis has directed such “wrath” at Disney “over a difference of opinion.”
Do you think Florida Gov. Ron Desantis has gone too far in retaliation against Disney? What do you think of the upcoming lawsuit? Let us know in the comments.