DeSantis Has A Plan To F*ck Disney And Not Florida Taxpayers. He'll Tell You About It In Two Weeks.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is still banging the drums of war against Disney. After Florida rammed through its filthy "Don't Say Gay" bill banning teachers from acknowledging that gay people exist, Disney issued a mild rebuke and expressed the hope that the law would be overturned. At which point DeSantis absolutely lost his shit. How very dare anyone in Florida criticize the king's policies? Don't they know the First Amendment is only for professors who want to misgender students and Republican megadonors who want to make unlimited, non-public PAC donations?
DeSantis, who is raising a metric shit ton of money off the bullshit culture war lie that Disney is "grooming" children, vowed revenge. He didn't even bother to hide the fact that he's punishing a corporation for its speech, in total violation of the First Amendment protection against government censorship.
“They demagogued the bill, they lied about it, came out against it. You know what my view is? I was very clear about saying, ‘you ain’t influencing me.’ I’m standing strong right here. So it doesn’t matter," he said as he signed the law abolishing the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special tax entity established in 1967 to incentivize Disney to build its theme park in Orlando.
Why, yes, these are the same people screaming bloody murder about DHS efforts to combat misinformation, claiming that Biden is erecting a Ministry of Truth. Because irony — and shame — are dead.
But it turns out there are drawbacks to busting in like the Kool-Aid man and ripping up laws. Sometimes you take a swing at your state's largest employer, which brings in $75 billion annually for Central Florida's economy and almost $6 billion in yearly tax revenue, and wind up punching your own constituents in the dick.
It seems no one on the DeSantis team thought about how abolishing the district and ceding the land to Orange and Osceola counties not only meant giving up the $163 million in annual taxes collected from the Mouse, but also meant taking over Disney's $1 billion bond debt. So now county taxpayers are staring down a massive tax shortfall and absorbing bond debt that will force them to cut services and raise taxes just to cover the annual debt service of $58 million.
It's not clear that the move is even legal, as Florida attorney Jacob Schumer explained in a recent Bloomberg Tax article, since the state promised in the Reedy Creek charter that it wouldn't do anything to jeopardize the interest of the district's bondholders. And Disney is quietly signaling to its investors that this shit is never going to happen. Meanwhile Fitch, one of the three major credit rating agencies, is already clearing its throat loudly about "significant risk to the credit quality" of Reedy Creek's bonds, and warning that a failure to resolve this issue "could alter our view of Florida's commitment to preserve bondholder rights and weaken our view of the operating environment for Florida governments."
But DeSantis has an answer for this, and it is to shout FAKE NEWS and accuse Disney of making pornographic cartoons. Also lying, he's going to do a lot of lying.
"It is not the understanding or expectation for SB 4-C, abolishing independent special districts, to cause any tax increases for the residents of any area of Florida," he said last week when people started pointing out that this whole harebrained scheme was going to have major negative consequences. "In the near future, we will propose additional legislation to authorize additional special districts in a manner that ensures transparency and an even playing field under the law."
About the Reedy Creek special district: Disney will pay its fair share of taxes. Floridians, including residents of Orange and Osceola Counties, will not be on the hook. Do not fall for another partisan political lie being amplified by media.\n\nMore to come\u2026pic.twitter.com/B7xpktBYav— Christina Pushaw \ud83d\udc0a \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Christina Pushaw \ud83d\udc0a \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1651148285
Shriek. What she does best is shriek. It's pretty much the only thing she does.
They'll have a plan ready in two weeks, you'll see. (Where have we heard that one before?) And anyone who says otherwise is a lying lib.
“Partisan politicians (and their stenographers in the press) are making unsubstantiated statements that do not stand up to basic logic," she snarked. "Let's think about this for a minute: If it’s true that the repeal of the special district would hand Disney a tax break, and the local taxpayers would be on the hook for this bail-out to benefit Disney … why would Disney oppose the idea of repealing their special district? Indeed, if that was true, why wouldn’t Disney have lobbied to get rid of the special district long ago?”
Dunno, Chrissy. Maybe it's worth a couple hundred million dollars a year for Disney to run its own fiefdom in the Magic Kingdom and not have to be dependent on state and local governments for fire, sewer, road maintenance, and other municipal services. Maybe Mickey Mouse doesn't want to have to constantly beg the Florida legislature to get the grass cut on the median strips leading into the park. Maybe that little tautology, along with the dig at the lügenpresse, isn't an actual answer to the math and law problem posed by this ridiculous statute.
The Post says that Disney is looking for a climbdown that will allow DeSantis to save face and claim victory while allowing everything to go back to normal.
“Disney won’t rock the boat,” a lobbyist privy to Disney's negotiations with DeSantis's office told the paper. “They’ll have private conversations with members and staff once things cool off a bit, and come up with a plan to get what they want. Part of the conversation is they won’t wade back into these issues, and DeSantis will move on to another topic.”
Culture war today, culture war tomorrow, culture war forever.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.