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DeSantis 'receptive' to changes to Disney's special operating district

 Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom
Photo courtesy Walt Disney World
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Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom

The Reedy Creek Improvement District is the governing jurisdiction and special taxing district for Walt Disney World Resort. DeSantis’ remarks come after Disney criticized the parental Rights in Education Bill that he signed into law last week.

Governor DeSantis says he would look favorably on any legislation that might curb some of the benefits now enjoyed by Disney World within the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Disney lobbied for the creation of the special administrative district, and in 1967 the Florida legislature authorized it for the purpose of supporting economic development and tourism within the district's boundaries, which include 25,000 acres overlapping Orange and Osceola Counties.

“I was shocked to see some of the stuff that’s in there," said DeSantis during a Friday news conference in Titusville. "They can do their own nuclear power plant. Is there any other private company in the state that can just build a nuclear power plant. They’re able to do certain things that nobody else is able to do.”

Florida House Representative Spencer Roach last week tweeted that he and other lawmakers are discussing repealing parts of the special legislative act that created the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a move the Governor said he would be receptive to.

“I think they’re right to be looking at this and reevaluating it," said the Governor. "And I think I’ve said I would be receptive to that. Having an even playing field for everybody I think is much better than to basically allow one company to be a law unto its self.”

Image courtesy www.rcid.org
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DeSantis’ remarks come after Disney criticized the parental Rights in Education Bill that he signed into law last week. Earlier last week he made no secret of his displeasure with Disney’s opposition to the new law.

“For Disney to come out and say that the bill should have never passed, and that they are going to actively work to repeal it, I think, one, was fundamentally dishonest, but two, I think that crossed the line," DeSantis said.

However, contrary to some reports, the Governor made it clear that Disney is not getting any exclusive tax breaks.

“People have been reporting that they’re getting all this. They have not qualified for any tax incentives. And I think what people are pointing to is just a general program that we have for every business. But there are no special tax breaks that are Disney specific," said DeSantis.

And the Governor also made it clear that it’s up to the Legislature, and not his administration, to make any changes to the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

“Over many, many, decades, where they have gotten essentially this one corporation put on a pedestal, and treated differently. And so that is something that I know they’re scrutinizing. But it’s really going to be up to the Legislature to re-evaluate," said the Governor. "I can tell you, just as a matter of first principal, if you didn’t have lobbying heft, and you didn’t have a lot of influence, I think a lot of those things that have accumulated over the years would probably not be justifiable.”

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