Rick Scott wants ‘better understanding’ of Ron DeSantis’ Disney government changes

DeSantis Scott
'What's going to change? What's the purpose?'

Florida’s former Governor would like more details on changes Gov. Ron DeSantis is spearheading on Disney’s unique governance structure.

Among his specific questions: what really will change, and how will local governments be protected?

Just hours after the Florida House passed HB-9B, legislation that materially alters the Reedy Creek Improvement District approved originally back in 1967, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott was asked about the changes on the Guy Benson Show.

Scott, who has spent most of the day stoking a feud with President Joe Biden, noted that he hadn’t “seen the bill.”

He added that he believed that Disney “made a big mistake by weighing in and taking a position” on the state’s Parental Rights in Education law (HB 1557), which was a “good bill.”

“We shouldn’t be teaching grade school kids about sex,” Scott asserted. “To me, it’s as simple as that, and I don’t know why they did that.”

But he had questions all the same.

“With regard to the taxing district, what I’d like to have a better understanding on is, simply on that, what’s going to change?” Scott said.

“What’s the purpose? How’s the board going to do things differently? How’s it going to impact the counties? How’s it going to impact the cities? So before they pass it, I just would like to have a better idea of what they’re going to be doing that’s going to impact these counties and cities.”

Changes seem somewhat more minimal than once expected. As Florida Politics’ Gabrielle Russon reported, the district isn’t getting dissolved — just getting a new name and a new board — so local taxpayers won’t be on the hook for Reedy Creek’s more than $1 billion debt.

The bill takes the control away from Disney in picking the board members of the newly coined Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, and instead lets DeSantis pick Florida residents to the five-member board with Senate confirmation. Those with business ties to Disney or other theme parks in the last three years are disqualified from membership.

Disney will retain key prerogatives, meanwhile, including tax-free bonds, its exemption from impact fees for construction projects and other tax incentives.

While the changes seem modest given the ferocious language from the current Governor ahead of the bill’s crafting and introduction this month, DeSantis declared that the reforms mean there’s a “new sheriff in town” at a press conference earlier this week.

“This is obviously now going to be controlled by the state of Florida, which is no longer self-governing for them,” DeSantis said in Ocala on Wednesday. “So, there’s a new sheriff in town and that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

The Governor stressed governance changes, saying “Disney is no longer going to have self-government; they’re not going to have their own government. Disney’s going to pay its fair share of taxes and Disney’s going to honor the debt and that’s exactly what this proposed piece of legislation will do.”

When asked about the controversy last year, Scott noted that while he was Governor he had a favorable relationship with Disney, which did not weigh in on social legislation during his two terms in Tallahassee.

“You know, when I was Governor, it never was an issue,” Scott said. “I don’t understand why they’re now getting involved in some of these political issues. My understanding is that the Legislature is going to look at it now. But my experience with Disney has been positive,” Scott said.

Despite that previous good relationship, Scott called it “frustrating” that Disney waded into the legislative controversy.

Companies have got to really think about how they get involved,” Scott urged last year, accusing Disney of a double standard since they “do business in Communist China.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Claude Kirk the younger

    February 9, 2023 at 8:40 pm

    We are doing it for the kids Rick. Leftists play the long game Rick. They see the black vote slipping away. They see their dream of hispanic’s keeping leftists in power as the left’s biggest folly ever. They need to indoctornate the kids into trans monsters since the queer vote is their only loyal voting demographic remaining.
    Long game Rick. BTW just call my man Ron he will better ‘splane it to you than I can. We are trying to save the childern Rick.

    • Ocean Joe

      February 10, 2023 at 6:30 am

      Governor, sounds like you admit “The Great Replacement Theory” is just another rightwing hoax, so maybe now we can have some actual immigration reform.

      And the black vote isn’t slipping away, it’s being suppressed and gerrymandered away.

      As for kids, they will be who they were born to be (their biologic make up pre-determines it). Science is a terrible thing to waste.

      • D Lawson

        February 14, 2023 at 1:22 am

        When the above mentions “it’s for the kids”, it is meant to save children from trafficking at/from Disney. Children go missing from there & the news doesn’t do a story. I know what’s going on in the tunnels, Disney has more than one With Cells..

  • LandShark

    February 10, 2023 at 10:12 am

    Of course, DeSantis says this isn’t political but is he also cutting the Reedy Creek provision for The Villages? I just want to be sure that this stand to “protect our kids” is someting that applies across the board and includes all or just those that oppose his bigotry.

  • Doug Hay

    February 10, 2023 at 2:55 pm

    I have little sympathy for corporate behemoths, but also little for thin-skinned politicians who want to punish those who exercise their First Amendment rights.

    • Ian

      February 11, 2023 at 1:29 pm

      He pretends to be for 2nd amendment rights but clearly isn’t. Pretty sure he’s pretending and campaigning on this too.
      TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking Florida state legislators to approve millions of dollars to help his office and other state agencies fight lawsuits stemming from new laws and executive orders.

      According to his budget proposal, which was unveiled last week, DeSantis is seeking to increase the litigation spending for the Executive Office of the Governor from $1.6 million last year to $4 million next year.

      That is an increase of 250%.

  • Johnny Bench

    February 19, 2023 at 9:29 pm

    Petulant-man-child Ron got his hands slapped by local judges seeing through his “election crimes” nonsense. The people of Florida had better wake up to this bat -shit crazy routine as Ron panders to primary voters of New Hampshire. The real goal of Florida republicans is to privatize education so they can make money from it. With B.E.S.T program rolled out it only waters down student achievements while propping up graduation rates. Only when these kids get to college they see how unprepared they really are. SAD!

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