Florida legislature votes to revoke Disney’s special tax status News
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Florida legislature votes to revoke Disney’s special tax status

The Florida legislature Friday voted to revoke Disney’s special tax status. The revocation is said to be a result of Disney’s opposition to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Disney’s theme park in Orlando, Florida spans 25,000 acres and pays several billion dollars in local and state tax revenue. In 1967, the area where the park now stands was designated as the Reedy Creek Improvement District. This allowed Disney the autonomy to operate as a quasi-government responsible for providing roads, water, sanitation, electricity, and safety. Disney’s special status as an “independent special district” also exempts it from regulations and certain taxes.

If signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, the revocation eliminates Disney’s special status as a sort of local government entity that it has held for over five decades. This move is likely to affect local taxpayers. Disney pays $163 million per year under the Reedy Creek arrangement in addition to local property taxes. Once the arrangement is withdrawn, the additional tax revenue will be lost. The counties, in turn, will have to raise property taxes which will hurt other taxpayers.

DeSantis has characterised the move as an effort to curb interference in education policy by big corporations. “Today, I signed a bill that ends the woke indoctrination in our schools and workplaces. We are giving parents, students and employees the ability to fight back,” he said.

When it was first passed, Disney vehemently opposed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill which forbids the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to students from kindergarten through third grade. Teachers are not allowed to introduce terms such as “gay” or “lesbian” and cannot teach that gender identity exists independent of sex. The bill officially called “Parental Rights in Education” purportedly champions parents’ rights to decide what their children learn about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill has faced opposition for stifling the voices of members of the LGTBQ+ community. Additionally, it disallows children from understanding and accepting diversity. Florida’s bill has also become a model to other states. Earlier this month, the Ohio legislatures introduced their version of the bill.

President Joe Biden opposed the bill since it was first advanced by the Florida legislature back in February.