The Phoenix Flyer

Democrat Crist leaps to Disney’s defense, criticizing the governor’s ‘DeSanTax’

By: - April 28, 2022 3:21 pm

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a 2022 gubernatorial candidate, released a new ad criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-Disney legislation. Source: Screenshot/YouTube

In response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attacks on The Walt Disney Co., U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist warned Thursday that the new Florida law dismantling self-governing authority for the company could result in higher taxes in Orange and Osceola counties.

Crist, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2022 and former governor, blasted DeSantis in an ad released Thursday that will run in the Orlando market about his speculated political ambitions beyond serving as the governor.

“DeSantis wants to run for president, and he’s whipping up his base by attacking Disney,” Crist said in the ad. “He doesn’t care that Disney brings thousands of tourists to Florida, or that his bill would cost taxpayers millions.”

“Ron, if you want to run for president, do it. But don’t make us pay your DeSanTax,” Crist added.

In addition, the new 30-second ad features Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, who claims that the county could see a 15 percent to 20 percent property tax increase.

During a special session last week, state lawmakers quickly pushed through DeSantis’ version of a congressional redistricting map that eliminates two Black seats plus two bills that strip Disney of  self-government power as well as an exemption from last year’s law cracking down on social media.

The Republican governor called for the special session to include Disney-related legislation after the company opposed Florida’s new “Parental Rights in Education,” or “Don’t Say Gay,” law, which prohibits classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 or higher grades when deemed not age-appropriate.

Legislators and tax experts have warned that eliminating Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District could leave taxpayers in Florida with more than $1 billion in bond debt, according to a report from CNBC.

A legislative analysis from the Florida Senate on the fiscal impact of SB 4C states that when a “special district government” is dissolved local governments could incur debt.

“Unless otherwise provided by law or ordinance, when there is dissolution of a special district government, the special district transfers the title to all property owned by the preexisting special district to the local general-purpose government, either a county or municipality, which shall also assume all indebtedness of the preexisting special district,” the analysis says.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.