DeSantis-Disney feud continues to heat up; Governor claims company ’will pay its debt’

Gov. DeSantis discusses tax relief. (WPLG)

OCALA, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference in Ocala on Wednesday where he answered questions about a bill that was introduced Monday, which would give Florida control of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, changing its name to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The Walt Disney Company, a powerful player in Florida politics, suspended its political donations in the state over the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and LGBTQ advocates who work for the company criticized CEO Bob Chapek for what they said was his slow response to speaking out against the bill. Some walked off the job in protest.

Now, DeSantis may soon get to pick the people who govern Disney’s Orlando-area theme parks, a move that would give him new authority over the state’s largest employer and a recent political foe.

When asked to explain what exactly would happen to Disney’s debt, DeSantis told a reporter that Disney would simply pay it, because “that’s exactly what this proposed piece of legislation will do.”

“Disney is going to pay its debt, and I think if you remember when we did the initial special session where we set the sunset date and we knew we’d have to deal with this, I always said that they’re gonna come in and we’re gonna figure out the best way to do it,” DeSantis said.

“We don’t wait around to fix things,” said DeSantis when asked about the timing of the new legislation.

With the growing concern that no other theme park complex in the area is afforded the same privileges such as tax exemptions, DeSantis discussed what kind of changes will be made.

“Well actually, there’s a provision in there — and they can correct me — that actually gives the state the ability to tax Disney for a lot of the benefits that they’ve accrued over the years, and so they will actually be subject to more ability to be taxed,” DeSantis said. “You also have a board that’s going to be in place that’s going to maybe more accurately determine the value of the property in terms of getting that relief there.”

DeSantis added that the state will be in control of how Disney is taxed.

During Wednesday’s press conference, the governor also announced that the “Framework for Freedom” budget proposal would involve $2 billion in proposed tax savings for Floridians.

The proposal has a one-year tax exemption for household items such as paper towels, toilet paper, and trash bags that cost less than $25 and over-the-counter pet medications and pet food.

The governor said the proposal will provide $2 billion in tax savings, including:

  • $500 million in toll relief
  • $139 million in tax relief exemption for baby and toddler necessities
  • $138 million in expanded back-to-school sales tax holiday savings.

About the Author:

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.