The Walt Disney Company has managed to wedge itself right in the middle of Florida’s battle for parental rights, pitting the “family entertainment” corporation against the very people it supposes to entertain. Their decision to back a small minority of very loud voices who have distorted the truth about the Parental Rights in Education Bill may now cost them a lot more than a few Disney+ subscriptions.
To summarize, The Reedy Creek Improvement Act of 1967 created a special municipality for the 25,000 acres of land Disney purchased to erect their theme park. They’ve enjoyed a preferred tax status and “self-rule” ever since.
In 1967 the Florida State legislature, working with Walt Disney World Company, created a special taxing district – called the Reedy Creek Improvement District – that would act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.
Walt Disney World could then move ahead with its vision to turn 38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swamp land, into a global destination resort that welcomes millions of visitors every year.
DeSantis says he wouldn’t consider the move to revoke Disney’s tax status as “retaliatory.” He maintains it would be part of a larger issue – reducing the influence private corporations have on government policy.
“I don’t think it’s retaliatory, I just think that Disney’s posturing has alienated a lot of people now. And so, the political influence they’re used to wielding, I think has dissipated, so the question is ‘Why would you want to have special privileges in the law, at all? And I don’t think that we should. But it’s not a matter of acting like those were really great policies. I think that those were policies over decades that were embedded in Florida’s law, largely because they wielded a lot of influence. I think because they’ve been able to do that over the years, I think that’s why they’ve gotten so, that’s one of the reasons they’ve got so far over their skis on this parental rights stuff.”
Revoking the law would most likely meant that Florida taxpayers will be responsible for the municipal services that Disney currently finances on their acreage. It will be up to lawmakers and their constituents to decide whether or not that’s a risk worth taking.