Florida Governor Ron DeSantis rejects the idea that Florida will have to pay off Disney’s debts if the state wants to dissolve the company’s special tax district. During a Fox News town hall on Thursday, DeSantis maintained that Disney will handle its own debts.
Disney told investors last week that business will continue as normal because, despite the recent Florida state law abolishing its special tax district by 2023, the state can’t actually proceed with its plan unless it also covers all outstanding debts to bond holders in the district , including interest payments.
According to Disney, under the terms of the 1967 law that established the district, “Unless otherwise provided by law, the dissolution of a special district government shall transfer title to all of its property to the local general purpose government, which shall also assume all indebtedness of the preexisting special district.”
But on Thursday, DeSantis, who signed the bill dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District — the official name of the tax district in which Disney operates its Florida theme parks and also functions as the local government — outright rejected that statement.
“Do not. Disney will pay its debts,” DeSantis said during a town hall with “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News. “Disney will, for the first time, actually live under the same laws as everyone else in Florida. Imagine that.”
Host Laura Ingraham pushed DeSantis to elaborate further, asking whether Disney’s “characterization of the statute is inaccurate.”
“Right. So the legislature did it starting next June because there’s going to be additional legislative action. We’ve contemplated that,” DeSantis said. “We know what we’re going to do. And so stay tuned. That will all be apparent. The bonds will be paid by Disney, they will be paying taxes, probably more taxes. They will follow the laws that every other person has to do, and they will no longer have the ability to run their own government, which they are the only corporation in all of Florida, the only entity in all of Florida, that has the ability to run their own government and do this.”
That said, DeSantis made the move to dissolve Reedy Creek after Disney’s objection to the parental rights law – dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics – passed in Florida, and has been repeatedly railing against “woke corporations.” The dissolution is widely seen as retaliation to Disney over their comments about the law.
Ingraham brought up the idea that some are floating: Disney could leave Florida. The governor argued that Disney would not want to spend the money that it would cost to move the theme park to a different state.
Then, DeSantis spouted more of his usual talking points, claiming that Disney is planning on “injecting pan-sexualism into programming for young kids,” and encouraged them to stay out of political topics.
“Get back to the mission. Do what you did great,” he said. “That is why people love the company. And you’ve lost your way. Maybe this will be the wake-up call they need to get back on track.”