DeSantis sees the attack against Disney as the latest front in a cultural war over policies involving race and gender. These battles have helped him to become one of the most beloved Republicans in the country, and a likely 2024 presidential candidate.
The law would remove the Reedy Creek Improvement District (or as the 55 year-old Disney government is called), as well as several other similar districts, by June 2023. The measure allows for the districts to be restored, and provides an opportunity to renegotiate future deals that allow the company to provide services like zoning, fire protection, utilities, and infrastructure.
DeSantis stated Friday that the company would pay more taxes than it currently pays and that the law won't cause tax increases in the area around Disney. He gave no additional details.
The controversy began with Disney's criticisms of a new law that bars instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade three. It also prohibits instruction that isn't "age appropriate" or developmentalally appropriate. DeSantis and other Republicans have defended it as reasonable and said that parents should discuss such topics with their children, and not teachers.
Disney finally said it would stop political donations to the state , and would support groups working against the new law.
DeSantis stated Friday that he was a Burbank-based corporation and that he would use his economic power to attack my parents. He signed the bill into law during a ceremony at Hialeah Gardens. "We see that as a provocative, and we're going against it."
The governor has attacked Disney for opposing the bill. He portrayed the company as one that promotes "woke" ideology which injects inappropriate topics into children's entertainment. DeSantis stated this in a fundraising pitch he sent to supporters: "It took us a while to look beneath the hood to understand what Disney has become."
Republican Rep. Randy Fine is the sponsor of the bill to remove the Disney district. He stated that Disney is not a guest in the state, and that Floridians don't care about California values.
Fine stated this week that if you kick the hornet's Nest, it will bring up things," Fine said to lawmakers at the GOP-controlled statehouse.
Democrats dismissed the Disney measure as petty reprisal. They warned that homeowners could be subject to tax bills if the company absorbs costs. However, details are not clear.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that "the devil is in details" and that the county is home to Disney World. He said that it would be "catastrophic" for the budget if the county was forced to pay for the public safety at the resort.
Disney is Florida's largest private employer. Last year, it reported that the company employed more than 60,000 people in Florida. It is unclear how the dissolution of the district would affect the company and local governments that surround its properties.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was created and Disney gained control over more than 27,000 acres (11,000 ha) in Florida. This was an important element of Disney's 1960s plans to build near Orlando. Officials from the company stated that they needed to be able to design a futuristic city alongside the theme park. However, the city did not materialize. Instead, Epcot became the Epcot theme parks.
The company is an important political player in Florida and the rest of the United States. According to the Center for Responsive Politics which tracks such spending, more than $20,000,000 in political contributions was made by the Walt Disney Co. and its affiliates to Republicans and Democrats during the 2020 election cycle.
In the same year, $10.5 million was funneled by Disney-related entities to America First Action, which supports Republican ex-President Donald Trump. To support Democratic President Joe Biden's campaign, Disney also contributed $1.2 Million.