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Florida residents sue Gov. DeSantis over Disney's tax district elimination

The plaintiffs say the freshly-signed bill dissolving Disney's special district will cause significant injury to taxpayers and threatens job losses.
Credit: heliopix - stock.adobe.com

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Four people living in Central Florida have decided to take Gov. Ron DeSantis to federal court after he signed a bill that dissolves Disney's private government.

DeSantis signed the bill in April after the entertainment giant opposed a new "Parental Rights" state law that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay."

The law eliminates the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the 55-year-old Disney government is known, as well as a handful of other similar districts by June 2023. The measure does allow for the districts to be reestablished, leaving an avenue to renegotiate its future.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, William Sanchez, an attorney in Miami, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the four Central Florida residents: Michael Foronda, Edward Foronda, Leslie Foronda and Vivian Gorsky.

The complainants in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in a Miami federal courthouse, claim the effort to silence Disney will "result in significant injury to taxpayers, threatens the loss of thousands of jobs," the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

The injury in question? The residents suing say dissolving Reedy Creek will "likely lead to increased taxes for the residents of Central Florida to pay off Disney’s bond debt, estimated to be between $1 billion and $2 billion," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

They also reportedly believe the bill violates not only the Florida Taxpayers' Bill of Rights but also the U.S. Constitution's free speech guarantee.

“Ron DeSantis has been clear on his intended punishment of Disney, although he claims the elimination of special districts will not affect central Florida taxpayers,” The Wrap reports the suit reads. “Taxpayer lawsuits such as this one are meant to check and restrict official government misconduct.”

The four Sunshine State residents going up against the governor are seeking to declare the law as unconstitutional, arguing the bill violated Disney's constitutional rights.

10 Tampa Bay reached out to the governor's office for a comment on the lawsuit.

In April, the governor made clear in a news conference that Disney would not be exerting control over the government in Florida.

"This state is governed by the interest of the people of the state of Florida. It is not based on the demands of California corporate executives. They do not run this state. They do not control this state," DeSantis said previously.

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