Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended dissolving Walt Disney World's self-governing district Thursday, saying Disney is simply "being treated the same as any company in Florida."
DeSantis appeared in a town hall hosted by Laura Ingraham to field questions about the company losing its Reedy Creek Improvement District after signing the proposal into law two weeks ago despite protest.
DeSantis told the host he hoped that the dissolved district would be a "wake-up call" for the company.
"When that company has very high up people talking about injecting pansexualism into programming for young kids, it's wrong," he said of Disney's stances on LGBT issues. "Walt Disney would not want that. And so, get back to the mission. Do what you did great. That's why people love the company, and you've lost your way. Maybe this will be the wake-up call that they need to get back on track," he said.
Ingraham further asked the governor who would pay for police officers and firefighters throughout the theme park, which the company previously financed on its own.
"Their taxes they pay to Reedy Creek, they are paying themselves," DeSantis said. "It's a fiction. They are paying money to run their operations, they will continue paying money to run their operations, and that will be true if the state is in charge of the district."
Disney wrote a letter to its investors Tuesday claiming that Florida would have to pay off its debts before Reedy Creek Improvement District loses its self-governance. Thus, it expects to continue business as usual.
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"Disney will pay its debts," DeSantis responded to the letter. "Disney will for the first time live under the same laws as everybody else in Florida."
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in a press conference last week that Disney pays 100% of public safety costs in its parks.
"If that district goes away, and they no longer pay for those public safety costs and then it has to fall to the county's other budgets, that's a net sum loss for the rest of the taxpayers of Orange County," Demings said. "When we already have significant pressure on our county's budget to provide for public safety."
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Disney's stock has lost over $50 million in value since its quarrel with the Florida governor began, dropping by as much as 8.5% last week.