The new Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has put a team of conservatives in charge of the tax and governance district that Disney used to run.
There have been rumors for decades that Disney saves tens of millions of dollars annually in taxes and fees thanks to the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special economic zone established by Florida lawmakers for the company in 1967. On Monday, DeSantis signed a bill into law that established the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
In addition to the four other members of the Sarasota School Board, DeSantis appointed Christian Ziegler’s wife, Bridget, to the board. Moms for Liberty was allegedly founded by Bridget Ziegler and a group of other mothers. The group’s stated goal is to promote conservative candidates for local school board positions to protect parental rights. For Gays Against Groomers, this is also helpful information.
Given Disney’s vocal opposition to a law last year that would have limited instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity to children ages 5–9, the appointment of DeSantis stands out. There is widespread support for the law among Democrats (62%), and among those who identify as “non-affiliated” (57%), according to a poll conducted for The Daily Wire.
DeSantis has also appointed conservatives like businessman and attorney Martin Garcia, former pastor and aviation technology executive Ron Peri, former appointee to the Sixth Circuit judicial nominating commission attorney Brian Aungst Jr., and Valencia State College trustee and attorney Michael Sasso.
Following his appointment of several conservatives to the Board of Trustees of New College of Florida, a public liberal arts college in Florida, DeSantis has nominated several conservatives to the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Matthew Spalding, a professor of constitutional government at Hillsdale College, and Christopher Rufo, an activist and fellow member of the Manhattan Institute, have been selected for these new positions.
The Florida House voted to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District by an 82-31 margin, and the Florida Senate voted in favor of dissolving the district by a 26-9 margin. When a company’s decisions have a wide-ranging impact on an area, as they do in DeSantis’s home state of Florida, “allowing a corporation to control its government is bad policy,” he said. Disney has lost its self-rule status and must now pay all taxes and debts by regular legislation.
Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger recently expressed his displeasure over the loss of the company’s tax and regulatory advantages and pledged to pay more attention to future customer concerns. A video of a company executive saying, “I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle, and I have no idea exactly what its ramifications are in terms of the business itself,” was accidentally released. Having spent my entire life in Florida, I can say without a doubt that we are a vital part of this state and that Florida is a vital part of ours.