Disney CEO Bob Iger criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' political moves in Florida on the company's May 10 second-quarter earnings call.
The business dispute arose as a result of a shareholder asking about Disney's parks in Florida, while the company faces a political battle with the governor.
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“With respect to Florida, I have a few things I want to say about that bill,” Iger said. “First of all, the case we filed last month made our position and facts very clear. It is about one thing and one thing only, and that is to retaliate against us for taking our stand regarding pending legislation. And we believe that by taking that position, we are only exercising our right to freedom of expression. Also, this isn't about Disney using special privileges, or an even playing field, or its leverage around the state of Florida in any way.
“But since a lot has been said about special districts and the system we had in place, I want to set the record on that as well. There are about 2,000 special districts in Florida, and most were established to promote investment in development. were done. We were one of them. It basically made it easier for us and other people to do business in Florida. And we've built a business that employs over 75,000 people, as we did before and attracts millions of people to the state. so while it is easy to say that the Reedy Creek Special District, which was established for us 50 years ago, benefited us, it is also misleading not to consider look at how much Disney has benefited the state of Florida. And we're not the only company operating one particular district. I mentioned Daytona Speedway has a major retirement community, and there are countless others. So if Target Playgrounds If there is to be leveling and uniform application of the law, there needs to be government oversight of particular districts or to apply to all particular districts.
“It is also a false narrative that we are fighting to protect tax breaks. But in fact, we are the largest taxpayer in Central Florida, paying over $1 billion in state and local taxes last year alone. We pay more taxes, especially more real estate taxes, as a result of that particular district, and we all know that until we talk legislation, there's going to be something to be called the Reedy Creek Special District. No concerted effort was made to do so. So this is clearly a case of retaliation, while the rest of Florida's special districts are basically operating as they were. I think it's also important for us to say that our primary goal has always been to continue doing what we've been doing out there, which is investing in Florida. We are proud of the tourism industry we have built and we look forward to continuing to provide the best possible guest experience. We never wanted, and certainly never expected, to be in a position to defend our business interests in federal court, especially with such a fraught relationship with the state as the one we've had for 50 years. Has been for more than years. And as I mentioned on my shareholder call, we have a huge opportunity to continue investing in Florida. I noted that we plan to invest $17 billion over the next 10 years, which the state should make us do. We act responsibly. We pay our fair share of taxes. We employ thousands of people and, by the way, we pay them well above the minimum wage set by the State of Florida. We also provide them lots of benefits and free education. So I'm going to end an obviously long answer by asking a question: does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes, or not?
This isn't the first time Iger has spoken out against DeSantis.
“It seems as if he has decided to retaliate against us,” Iger said during the company's annual shareholders' meeting on April 3. He also referred to DeSantis' power struggle with Disney as an attempt to “punish a company for the exercise of a constitutional right”.
DeSantis supported board that oversees theme parks planning to take the offer On May 10, it will set up a code enforcement system that could allow officers to impose civil penalties of up to $500 per day per violation – the maximum allowed by state law.
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