After reports that some Florida lawmakers are working to compromise with Disney regarding the Reedy Creek Improvement District rather than dissolve the district, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis denies that there will be a “U-turn” on the decision.
The self-described purpose of the Reedy Creek Improvement District is “to support and administer certain aspects of the economic development and tourism within District boundaries.” The creation of the district in 1967 meant Walt Disney World and other landowners would pay for local essential services like water, electricity, fire protection, and emergency medical services instead of taxpayers. Governor Ron DeSantis has been targeting Disney and their “special privileges” ever since they took a hard stance against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill (officially the “Parental Rights in Education” bill).
The Florida legislature and Governor DeSantis passed a bill to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District in April of this year. According to the bill, the dissolution would take place by June 2023. Since then, details have been murky about what will happen if or when the district is dissolved. Multiple lawsuits have been filed over Disney’s $1 to $2 billion of debt that could be transferred to taxpayers. Governor DeSantis claimed he has a plan for the district’s dissolution but has yet to announce anything concrete. Meanwhile, the Reedy Creek Fire Department has been struggling since before the decision was made.
Following the firing of Bob Chapek and the return of Bob Iger as CEO, Florida lawmakers are reportedly hoping to create a compromise that would allow Disney to keep the district with a few changes. However, DeSantis’ office is now denying this, WPTV reports.
DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske said in a tweet that the possible compromise was “fake news” and that DeSantis “doesn’t make ‘u-turns.'”
Press Secretary Bryan Griffin also said in a statement that the governor does not make U-turns.
“The governor was right to champion removing the extraordinary benefit given to one company through the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” Griffin said. “We will have an even playing field for businesses in Florida, and the state certainly owes no special favors to one company.”
Republican Rules Chair Representative and future House Speaker Danny Perez said a plan for the district’s dissolution “is in the works” and coming “soon.”
“The governor’s firm in his stance,” he said, “and we firmly support his position.” He said of new CEO Bob Iger, “There have been comments that have been made by the new CEO, where he essentially said that he wished Disney wasn’t in the position that it currently is in with the state government.”
Iger tweeted amidst the original controversy about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, “If passed, this bill will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.” It was only after this that then CEO Bob Chapek and Disney publicly denounced the bill.
During a recent town hall with Cast Members, Iger said of LGBTQ+ inclusion, “One of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion, [and] acceptance, and tolerance. And we can’t lose that, we just can’t lose that.”
He added about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill specifically, “I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle, and I have no idea what exactly the ratifications are in terms of the business itself. What I can say is the state of Florida has been very important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.”