Florida taxpayers are suing DeSantis for eliminating Disney’s special ward

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Four Central Florida residents are suing state leaders over the decision to eliminate Disney’s Reedy Creek District.

The lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday seeks to block the law by claiming it violates free speech and the rights of taxpayers who may end up with the bill.

“There is no doubt that defendant Governor DeSantis intended to punish Disney for a free speech ground protected by the 1st Amendment,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendant’s violation of Disney’s 1st Amendment rights directly resulted in a violation of Plaintiffs’ 14th Amendment rights to due process.”

The Reedy Creek Improvement District gave Disney the right to govern itself like a city. This allowed Disney to raise its own revenue to pay for municipal infrastructure expenses like roads, waste services, fire safety, and water at Disney World. Reedy Creek also issued bonds and levied taxes on properties within its boundaries, which border the Orlando area, effectively on behalf of Disney.

The act of dissolution was adopted after weeks of tension between Governor Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Co. following the passage of the controversial Parental Rights in Education Act, known to critics as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Act.

DeSantis did not hesitate to his reasoning for disbanding the district on Fox News last week.

“I’m not comfortable having a company with its own government and special privileges, when this company is committed to attacking parents in my state,” DeSantis said. “When this company has people in very high places talking about injecting pansexualism into programming for young children, it’s wrong. Walt Disney wouldn’t want that. And so get back to the mission. Do what you did That’s why people love the company, and you’ve lost your way. Maybe that’ll be the wake-up call they need to get back on track.

The Orange County tax collector says eliminating the district would result in steep tax increases, and more than $1 billion in debt would have to be recovered by either the counties or the state.

“The moment it dissolves, that money is gone. Just gone. And instead what happens is all of Reedy Creek’s debts and obligations are transferred to the Orange County government,” a Orange County tax collector Scott Randolph told WESH.

Disney recently told investors that the state would not be able to resolve the district without paying the district’s outstanding debts of approximately $1 billion.

DeSantis claimed that state lawmakers would pass more bills to ensure the cost of Reedy Creek’s disappearance would not land on taxpayers, but nothing concrete has been announced.

“There’s going to be additional legislation,” DeSantis said. “We’ve considered that. We know what we’re going to do, so stay tuned. Everything will be apparent.”

The lawsuit was filed by William Sanchez on behalf of three people in Osceola County and one in Orange County. Sanchez is currently running for Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat.

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