Florida Backpedals on Move to Strip Disney of Self-Governing Status

in Walt Disney World

Ron DeSantis and Reedy Creek

Images Credit: ABC News (left) and Reedy Creek Fire Department (right)

In a surprising turn of events, Florida may reverse its decision to remove Disney’s self-governing status.

According to a report from Financial Times, Florida lawmakers are developing a compromise that would reportedly let Disney keep this special status, but with a few changes. According to the report, Bob Iger’s reinstatement as CEO could have a major part to play in this decision.

mickey and minnie 50th magic kingdom
Credit: Disney

Randy Fine, who was responsible for drafting this bill, had said that Chapek’s removal as CEO could imply that things could get sorted out, adding:

“It’s easier to shift policy when you don’t have to defend the old policy. Chapek screwed up, but Bob Iger doesn’t have to own that screw-up.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law last April that would revoke Disney’s special district status, come June 2023. This was a counteract move to Disney’s reaction to the controversial Parental Rights in Education Act, also commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Bob Iger
Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Monday, Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed Disney employees in a Town Hall meeting for the first time since resuming his role as CEO. Among other topics, he discussed the special tax district feud:

“I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle, and I have no idea exactly what its ramifications are. The state of Florida has been important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.”

However, DeSantis responded to these remarks on Tucker Carlson Tonight:

“We didn’t drag them in… they went in on their own, and not only opposed the bill, threatened to get it repealed. These are parents’ rights… They brought this on themselves.” 

Reedy Creek Fire Department
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department Website

Because Disney was publicly against this bill, Governor DeSantis threatened to take away Disney’s self-governing status by dissolving Reedy Creek.

If you’re unfamiliar, Reedy Creek is a special taxing district created through the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which allows Disney to be able to reside in Florida on its own and unregulated, somewhat acting as its own government.

Reedy Creek Fire Dept.
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

Related: Gov. DeSantis Pushes Back on Disney’s Reedy Creek Lawsuit

This district was created to function with essentially the same authority as a county government. As such, Reedy Creek has the ability to issue tax-free bonds, levy taxes, oversee land use and environmental protections, and even provide necessary public services, such as police and fire departments. This can all be done without local or state government interference.

However, dissolving this district may have financial repercussions for Floridians, as Reedy Creek has about $997 million worth of bond debts, as well as $163 million in annual tax payments. If this district were dissolved, these payments would fall heavily on the shoulders of those in neighboring counties. Though we know how this bill would negatively impact Disney World’s neighbors, it is unclear what the future would hold for this Park if the bill is not reversed.

What do you think of this news? Should this bill be reversed? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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