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Disney Fires Back, Says FL Needs $1 Billion to Dissolve Governance

The following article, Disney Fires Back, Says FL Needs $1 Billion to Dissolve Governance, was first published on Flag And Cross.

Over the course of the last several weeks, a tiff has been fomenting between the state government of Florida and the Disney corporation, as the two battle over one of the Sunshine State’s most controversial new laws.

Disney, whose theme park attractions in Orlando comprise a significant portion of the state’s tourism economy, has publicly declared their opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  In response, Governor Ron DeSantis has suggested that theme park’s longstanding “self-governance” statute could be revoked.

Mickey Mouse’s bosses are now suggesting that such a move could cost Floridians a whole lot of money.

Florida faces a big obstacle as it moves to strip Walt Disney World of its semi-autonomous status in the state: what to do with the special district’s nearly $1 billion in bond debt.

The resort complex’s governing board says that when Florida created the Reedy Creek Improvement District decades ago, the state pledged to protect the district’s debt holders — and not to alter its status unless all debts are paid off.

The Disney district pulled out receipts from the 1960s

The debt pledge is in the Reedy Creek Act the state enacted in May 1967, the district said in a statement filed with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

The arrangement is unique in several ways.

Reedy Creek says the state made several promises to bondholders when it adopted the act, including:

  • Not to limit the district’s ability to “fulfill the terms of any agreement made with the holders of any bonds or other obligations”;
  • Not to impair bondholders’ rights, or modify the arrangement until all bonds, costs and expenses “are fully met and discharged”

Because of those pledges, the district said, it will “explore its options while continuing its present operations,” despite the plan to revoke its standing.

DeSantis has been forceful in his time as governor, so it is unlikely that he’ll flinch at Disney’s alleged revelation, but the maneuver certainly declares the company’s intentions in a very succinct way.

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