Earlier this year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis divested The Walt Disney Co. of its control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, an area covering the Walt Disney World Resort.
Now under state oversight, the district has been rebranded as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) and managed by a newly appointed board. Two major shifts in policy have arisen as a result — significant budget adjustments and the elimination of diversity programs — that have drawn attention and sparked debate both in Florida and across the nation.
Fiscal Challenges And Litigation Costs
One of the board’s first acts was to propose a reduction of $3 million from the 2024 budget for road maintenance and repairs in the park. The move comes at a time when the board is preparing for mounting legal costs, anticipating millions in fees for its ongoing legal standoff with Disney. The combination of reduced infrastructure investment and anticipated legal expenses indicates that the newly formed CFTOD is grappling with a complex financial landscape.
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The Demise Of Diversity Programs And Legal Concerns
Another significant policy change is the board’s decision to dismantle all existing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs. The board went so far as to label the initiatives “discriminatory,” “un-American” and an unnecessary financial burden, without specifying the alleged costs involved.
Further insight into this move came from a report by the Orlando Business Journal, which revealed that CFTOD’s legal team had expressed concerns about the legality of certain programs. Specifically, they questioned the Minority/Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contracting programs, arguing that they could expose the district to legal liabilities. District Administrator Glen Gilzean formally announced the changes, contending that the programs discriminated “based on gender and race.”
The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill: The Spark That Ignited The Feud
The tension between DeSantis and Disney can be traced to the Parental Rights in Education Act (HB 1557), referred to as the “don’t say gay” bill by opponents. The controversial legislation has had far-reaching consequences. In response, DeSantis has made several shocking proposals, including the construction of a state prison adjacent to the Walt Disney World Resort and the imposition of a tax on guests staying at Disney hotels.
Before the feud, the relationship between DeSantis and The Walt Disney Co. had been largely neutral to positive. Disney’s role as a significant employer and contributor to Florida’s economy generally facilitated a cooperative relationship with state lawmakers.
Rebranding the Reedy Creek Improvement District as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has led to notable policy shifts, including curtailing infrastructure spending and eliminating diversity initiatives, both of which have generated widespread interest and debate.
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This article DeSantis’s Relentless Retaliation Efforts To Destroy Disney Cuts Road Maintenance, Ends Minority Programs And Floats Building A State Prison Near Theme Parks originally appeared on Benzinga.com
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