The Runback: The Disney Mess
Ron DeSantis and company are making a BIG mistake in Florida
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Studies Still Show Ivermectin Does Not Work for COVID: This is how medical clinical science works. The politicians have hurt us. Let the medical researchers do what they best.
The Monday Thoughts
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation that disestablishes the Reedy Creek Improvement District. That may not mean much to you, but it will dissolve Disney’s special status in the Orlando area.
The feud between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Company continued to simmer Wednesday, as the GOP-led legislature moved closer to dissolving the entertainment giant’s special tax status.
The state Senate voted to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 1967 deal between the state and the Walt Disney that allows Disney to control most of what goes on at the theme park and its vast land holdings.
DeSantis (R) praised the effort, telling potential donors in a fundraising email, “I was elected to put the people of Florida first, and I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state.”
First, a little background. The Reedy Creek Improvement District was created by the Florida Legislature in 1967, at Disney’s insistence as a prerequisite for the building and the development of Walt Disney World:
the Disney company petitioned the Florida State Legislature for the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which would have almost total autonomy within its borders. Residents of Orange and Osceola Counties did not need to pay any taxes unless they were residents of the district. Services like land use regulation and planning, building codes, surface water control, drainage, waste treatment, utilities, roads, bridges, fire protection, emergency medical services, and environmental services were overseen by the district. The only areas where the district had to submit to the county and state would be property taxes and elevator inspections. The planned EPCOT city was also emphasized in this lobbying effort.
Bottom line: Reedy Creek and Disney are, effectively, Florida’s 68th county.
The rapid drive to disestablish the Reedy Creek Improvement District is led by DeSantis, no doubt related to his plans to run for President in 2024. Disney spoke out against the Parental Rights in Education Act (the pejoratively named “Don’t Say Gay” bill), so DeSantis decided to turn the power of the state against Disney. The bill, if passed, will eliminate all of the protections and benefits Disney has had since 1967.
And it is a terrible mistake.
If you are any sort of conservative, the existence of Reedy Creek should give you mixed emotions. As an ideological conservative, I loathe the existence of special districts like this one. There is no reason whatsoever that Disney should have been given this kind of protection in the first place. Given that Walt Disney himself had selected the site for the project, and that the Walt Disney Company was already buying land in the area, it hardly seems as if they would relocate to another location based on Florida’s refusal to create Reedy Creek.
Even if the District’s creation eased the tax burden on Orange and Osceola Counties, I have serious ideological objections to Reedy Creek’s existence.
But with all that being said, the mad dash to punish Disney is going to cost Orange and Osceola County taxpayers a small fortune:
Meanwhile, local officials in Central Florida sounded the alarm, warning the repeal could leave them with a burdensome tax bill. Currently, Disney is responsible for everything including road maintenance, building inspections, 911 emergency calls and sewage treatment at the theme park, which straddles two counties and covers 40 square miles.
“Orange County is going to be stuck with $164 million or more per year in expenses with no revenue,” Orange County tax collector Scott Randolph said. “So they’re going to have to raise property taxes. This is a huge tax increase on the citizens of Orange County that they’ll have to pay every single year.”
That’s right, the elimination of Reedy Creek will stick Orange County and Osceola County with all of the responsibilities that they currently are exempted from. As well as the expenses that go with it.
The counties would also be stuck splitting $2 billion in debt that Reedy Creek has accumulated.
On top of all of that, Disney will actually get an immediate $163 million tax break because they charge themselves $163 million in taxes above and beyond county and state taxes in order to fund Disney operations.
The end result would be more expenses for counties.
Taxpayers will end up as collateral damage in DeSantis’ efforts to hurt Disney. How will that play nationwide when he runs for President? It certainly gives me pause and eliminates any chance that I will be supporting DeSantis in the 2024 primary.
The taxpayers are one problem. The ideological component is even more problematic.
When did it become ok for conservatives to use the power of government to punish a specific business? This is exactly what conservatives have accused liberals of doing for decades. And yet, the Trumpist wing of the party thinks that going after Disney is a great victory for “conservatism.”
Good. Disney is reaping its just reward for inserting itself into the political debate about Florida’s parental rights bill, which Disney lost in spectacular fashion. Republican governors and lawmakers across the country should be taking notes.
This is how you deal with big corporations that try to throw around their weight and force woke policies on voters and families. You punish them, not just because they deserve it, but also, as Voltaire famously put it, pour encourager les autres.
This isn’t conservatism. This is nothing even resembling conservatism. Conservatives believe that government does not exist to reward or punish specific companies. What Florida is doing is exactly that. Call it whatever you want, but it’s not conservatism.
Even Jenna Ellis, of all people, understands this.
To that point, here’s a thought.
Fascist economics supported a state-controlled economy that accepted a mix of private and public ownership over the means of production. Economic planning was applied to both the public and private sector and the prosperity of private enterprise depended on its acceptance of synchronizing itself with the economic goals of the state. Fascist economic ideology supported the profit motive, but emphasized that industries must uphold the national interest as superior to private profit.
Emphasis mine. But doesn’t that sound like what’s going on with Reedy Creek?
There are perfectly valid and good reasons for discussing the elimination of Reedy Creek over the course of time for Disney, Orange County, and Osceola County to properly plan for the orderly transition of costs and responsibilities. But doing this now, with an accelerated timeframe of 2023, is a half-cocked idea hatched solely for political purposes that will hurt businesses and taxpayers across Florida.