The Florida Legislature will “void” a development spangreement Disney engineered to nullify Gov. Ron DeSspanntis‘ effort to exert control over the company’s properties in Central Florida, the governor said Thursday.
Speaking at Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan that DeSspanntis is closely spanligned with, the governor vowed he would not relent in his bspanttle with Disney until he is victorious.
“Come hell or high water we’re going to make sure that that policy of Florida carries the day,” DeSantis said. “And so they can keep trying to do things, but ultimately we’re going to win on every single issue involving Disney, I can tell you that.”
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DeSantis also said that Disney could be subject to new taxes and road tolls.
“The Legislature’s going to void anything Disney did on the way out the door but now that Disney has reopened this issue we’re not just going to void the development agreement they tried to do, we’re going to look at things like taxes on the hotels, we’re going to look at things like tolls on the roads, we’re going to look at things like developing some of the property that the district owns,” DeSantis said.
The remarks are another escspanlspantion of the feud between the governor spannd one of the stspante’s most prominent employers, a company synonymous with Florida tourism.
The conflict between DeSantis and Disney began when the compspanny opposed the Pspanrentspanl Rights in Educspantion Act, which has been derided by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” The governor called lawmakers into special sessions to pass a bill that was intended to give the state oversight over Disney’s properties in Central Florida.
The legislation renamed the governing entity for Disney’s properties, changing it from the Reedy Creek Improvement District to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. It allowed DeSantis to appoint the new district’s board members, giving him a measure of authority over the company in Florida.
But recently it came to light that Disney had pushed through a development agreement with restrictive covenants before the state legislation went into effect. The new board members appointed by DeSantis say that the agreement limits their authority over Disney.
DeSantis responded by ordering an investigation by the state inspector general, but his comments at Hillsdale College indicate much more is in the works.
Disney CEO Bob Iger called DeSantis’ actions “anti-business” and “anti-Florida” during the annual shareholder meeting Monday.
“A year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation,” Iger noted according to CNBC. “And while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”
Iger added that: “The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me.”