A rep for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed that Walt Disney Co. will “pay its fair share of taxes” — denying that local residents will foot the bill for the Republicans’ move to dissolve Disney World’s special self-governing district.
Christina Pushaw, the top spokesperson for the governor, tweeted on Thurday: “Disney will pay its fair share of taxes.”
“Floridians, including residents of Orange and Osceola Counties, will not be on the hook,” Pushaw said. “Do not fall for another partisan political lie being amplified by the media.”
Pushaw blasted comments by local county officials who said their residents would bear the burden if the government followed through on its pledge to dismantle Reedy Creek Improvement District, the self-governing entity that is largely controlled by Disney.
The district, which was created by Florida to entice California-based Disney to build a theme park on land that straddles both Orange and Osceola Counties in the late 1960s, is legally empowered to govern its own affairs.
DeSantis last week signed into law a measure passed by the GOP-dominated state legislature which dismantles RCID — effectively relegating Disney World to the jurisdiction of Orange and Osceola counties.
The move was seen as retaliation for Disney’s opposition to a recently enacted law — which critics dub the “Don’t Say Gay” measure — which bans sexual and gender identity education for children before the fourth grade.
RCID says that Florida cannot legally dissolve the Disney-dominated self-governing entity next year unless the state covers the estimated $1 billion in outstanding bond debt.
It sent a letter to bondholders last week citing language of the 1967 law which states that Florida “will not in any way impair the rights or remedies of the holders…until all such bonds together with interest thereon, and all costs and expenses in connection with any act or proceeding by or on behalf of such holders, are fully met and discharged.”
That is why RCID said it expects to continue to maintain its quasi-independent status despite the newly enacted repeal.
Local lawmakers from the counties blasted DeSantis and the GOP-led legislature, saying that taxpaying residents will be the ones who will have to bear the financial burden that comes with assuming RCID’s outstanding bond debt.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that revoking RCID’s status would be “catastrophic for our budget” since his jurisdiction would have to assume responsibility for upkeep of roads, infrastructure, and public safety.
It has been estimated that dismantling RCID — which the law stipulates will go into effect by June 1 of next year — would cost Orange and Osceola countries between $2,200 and $2,800 in extra taxes for each household.
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