DeSantis rescinds $1.2 billion tax increase he imposed on last year’s Disney fight

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday reversed the looming $1.2 billion tax increase A bill meant to punish The Walt Disney Company for criticizing his so-called “don’t say gay” laws hastily passed, and he inadvertently imposed a bill on Central Florida residents a year ago. To.

“The corporate kingdom is over,” said the Republican as he took the lectern at the fire station on the Disney property.

Monday’s law, which reversed the planned dissolution of a 25,000-acre Disney-owned special tax district south of Orlando, was passed by lawmakers, and DeSantis took to the law last April for three days. signed.

A month earlier, then-Disney CEO Bob Chepak told a company employee He said he regretted not speaking out against child custody laws in education and was suspending political contributions in Florida.

The law, called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, bans early-grade teachers from discussing sexuality and gender. Critics argue, for example, that it prevents a same-sex marriage teacher from mentioning her spouse.

DeSantis and his associates said Disney shouldn’t be given special privileges. have been transferred to individuals and companies.

If that law had taken effect on June 1 as planned, taxes would have increased by thousands of dollars a year by 2038. In 2038, the bonds issued by the Reedy Creek Improvement District to pay for roads and other public works on Disney properties will finally be paid. off.

Such a tax increase would have been a political disaster for DeSantis, who plans to announce his presidential run later this spring. The urgency to resolve the issue was reflected in his decision to include it during this month’s special legislative session, rather than waiting for the regular session to begin in early March. Florida governors have historically had far more control over legislation during special sessions than during regular 60-day sessions, when bills are often cluttered with irrelevant language and involved in horse trading. .

The bill, which DeSantis signed Monday, repeals last April’s Disney Act and gives him and future governors the task of appointing a board of directors for Disney’s tax district, renamed the Central Florida Tourist Watch District. Otherwise, the district’s ability to issue bonds to pay for Disney property improvements will remain intact.

DeSantis said it plans to formally appoint a new five-member board late Monday. These individuals, formerly selected by Disney, now become allies of DeSantis, including Bridget Ziegler, the wife of the State Republican Party Speaker.

During Monday’s 45-minute bill signature, DeSantis repeatedly used misrepresentations and blatant misrepresentations to explain Disney’s previous and new tax and regulatory frameworks.

For example, DeSantis argued that Disney would eventually be forced to pay a “fair share” that it had avoided in the past. “There is infrastructure supplied to theme parks that every citizen in Central Florida paid for, and Disney really rode for free. Now they can tax for that,” he said.

In fact, Disney properties have one of the highest total tax rates in the state. It pays all taxes on land area owed to the county and the school board, and then pays additional “factories” for roads, water and sewerage, utilities, fire and police protection.

At another point, DeSantis suggested that Disney’s spending on its own infrastructure is costing Florida taxpayers. “They were able to make huge profits without paying their fair share of taxes and amassed another $700 million in municipal bonds,” he said.

In reality, Disney’s bond obligations are paid only by taxpayers within the boundaries of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is Disney itself, with the exception of a few small parcels sold to hotels.

Former President Donald Trump is set to face Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the 2024 presidential primary.

Former President Donald Trump is set to face Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the 2024 presidential primary.

Former President Donald Trump is set to face Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the 2024 presidential primary.

DeSantis said the new law would put Disney on par with all other attractions in Central Florida.

That’s not true either. Under the renamed board, Disney still has its own tax districts, but not, for example, Universal Studios or SeaWorld. parking lots do not need to collect sales tax, but parking lots at other theme parks do.

DeSantis accused local governments of trying to use last year’s law to raise taxes. “This will prevent local governments controlled by left-wing politicians from taking advantage of the situation to raise local taxes,” he said of the new law.

However, if Reedy Creek dissolved, it was not optional for officials in Orange and Osceola counties to pass Disney’s accumulated debt onto taxpayers in those counties. Rather, it is mandated under the state laws governing special districts.

A spokesperson for DeSantis did not respond to HuffPost inquiries. As was the practice during his tenure, DeSantis did not publicly disclose Monday morning’s bill signing until two hours before his start, prompting journalists from the Tallahassee Capital Corps who have followed Disney’s laws most closely. I am no longer able to attend.

Instead, DeSantis invited the leader of the firefighters’ union, who complained that Disney wasn’t paying enough. A local mother who abandoned Disney because she believes it no longer provides wholesome entertainment. and Disney World employees who used their time on the mic to spread various falsehoods about the COVID vaccine.

DeSantis announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in Florida, and is widely expected to challenge former President Donald Trump in a coup attempt.

His critics have already accused him of mimicking Trump’s personality traits to win over voters. He provided them with some more bait by lifting up and showing off his signature to the audience and cameras.