TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill to dissolve Walt Disney World’s private government, after the entertainment giant opposed a new state law critics have dubbed “don’t say gay.”
The law would eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the 55-year-old Disney government is known, as well as a handful of other similar districts by June 2023. The measure does allow for the districts to be reestablished, leaving an avenue to renegotiate its future.
The move could have huge tax implications for Disney, whose series of theme parks have transformed Orlando into one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and serves to further sour the relationship between the Republican-led government and a major political player in the state.
For DeSantis, the attack on Disney is his latest salvo in a culture war waged over policies involving race, gender and the coronavirus, battles that have made him one of the most popular GOP politicians in the country and a likely 2024 presidential candidate.
The dispute with the company began with Disney’s criticism of a new law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as well as instruction that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
In March, Disney said it would suspend political donations in the state and added that it would in turn support organizations working to oppose the new law. DeSantis and his fellow Republicans then lashed out at Disney, and have defended the law as reasonable.
At the bill signing ceremony Friday, DeSantis said Disney lied about the content of the education law but that he viewed the company’s vow to fight the law as unacceptable.
“You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state. We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that,” DeSantis said.
By ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE Associated Press