DeSantis says Disney’s debts won’t fall on Florida taxpayers

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Governor Ron DeSantis says the financial burden of the fallout from Disney losing its private governing system won’t hit Florida taxpayers.

The fight between Disney and DeSantis has been unfolding for weeks after Disney announced opposition to the so-called “don’t say gay” law.

The governor then signed a bill to dissolve Disney’s self-acting government.

“They’re going to pay their debts,” said DeSantis.

$1 billion in bond debt is what DeSantis says Disney owes. This comes after the state rushed to eliminate Disney’s special tax district.

“Essentially, we’ve completely rewritten that contract or voided that contract in a way that now leaves the state and possibly counties exposed to financial commitments that no one ever even imagined,” said Tom Smythe, a professor with the department of finance & economics at FGCU.

During an appearance on Fox News, DeSantis told viewers that taxpayers have nothing to fear.

“There’s going to be additional legislative action. We’ve contemplated that; we know what we’re going to do. And so stay tuned, that will all be apparent, the bonds will be paid by Disney,” DeSantis told Fox News.

The governor pushed Republicans in the legislature to take on Disney after the company vowed to fight for the repeal of the Parental Rights in Education law, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The question is, does Disney have the right to speak under the first amendment?

“Conservatives and republicans seem to be going after a company because they do not like what that company said. And so yeah, I mean, it’s not me just saying it, but it’s first amendment lawyers are saying that Disney would have a good case if they chose to pursue it,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida.

It’s possible the governor could add new Disney legislation to the special session on insurance set for late May. The governor has not signaled he’ll do that and has not offered specifics on how the state will get Disney to pay the debt.

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