New Florida Law Could Mean Huge Tax Hikes for Residents

With DeSantis signing legislation, Orange County doesn't know how it can raise revenue to pay difference
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2022 6:00 PM CDT
Local Officials Brace for When Disney World Tab Falls to Them
Ray Maxwell, then-administrator of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney World's government, points to Walt Disney World on an aerial photo in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in 2004.   (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove, File)

Florida's governor and legislature have decided to eliminate the Reedy Creek District, Disney World's private government, in a political battle over the state's new law known as "Don't Say Gay." But the bill for the move will go to local officials. "The moment that it dissolves, that money's gone. Just gone," said Scott Randolph, Orange County's tax collector, WESH reports. "And instead, what happens is all the debts and obligations of Reedy Creek get transferred over to Orange County government." Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation Friday, per the AP.

That could leave Orange County in a $163 million hole, Randolph said—probably more than it could make up even if it raised taxes as much as the law allows. And property taxes could rise 20%, per NPR. The law eliminates the district by June 2023. Randolph said the county needs to prepare for the district's dissolution, though it lacks the details to do much now. Osceola County is in a similar situation. The law allows the districts to be reestablished later.

President Biden criticized Florida Republicans for the "ugly" education legislation, which DeSantis signed into law last month, at Democratic fundraisers Thursday in Washington and Oregon. "I respect conservatives," Biden said in Seattle. "There’s nothing conservative about deciding you're going to throw Disney out of its present posture because, Mickey Mouse?" The president said the Republican Party has left behind its conservative values. "This is a different deal," he said, adding that it's not just former President Donald Trump behind it. "It's the MAGA crowd," Biden said. (More Florida stories.)

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