Disney CEO Bob Iger Speaks Out Against Florida Governor’s “Anti-Business” Actions

Disney CEO Bob Iger has spoken out against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ actions against the entertainment giant, calling them “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”[0] The feud between the two parties began simmering in 2021, when Disney voiced opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which limits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools. In March 2022, Disney publicly declared their opposition to the bill and committed to assisting in its repeal.[1]

DeSantis retaliated against Disney by introducing new legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which banned teachers from educating children about sexual orientation and gender identity through to the third grade. Disney’s opposition to the law appears to have been a factor in DeSantis’ decision to pass a bill stripping Disney of control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special tax district that for more than five decades had played a large role in regulating the land that includes Disney’s signature Florida theme parks.

The DeSantis-appointed board was given governmental oversight of the district, which was subsequently renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.[2] DeSantis signed the bill repealing the status last April, and in February 2023 he officially stripped Disney World of its self-governing status by replacing the Reedy Creek Improvement District with the state-run Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.[3]

Iger has defended Disney’s constitutional right to take a stand on issues such as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, arguing that any action by the state to retaliate against the company for its exercise of a constitutional right is “wrong.”[4] He added that any such action is “anti-business” and “anti-Florida,” particularly against a company that contributes so much to the state’s economy.[4]

Disney has also stood by its actions, saying that all agreements between the company and the Reedy Creek board were “appropriate” and “discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida Government in the Sunshine law.”[5]

Despite the ongoing feud, Disney is planning to invest $17 billion in Disney World over the next 10 years, creating 13,000 new Disney jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs, attracting more people to the state and generating more taxes.[6] Iger said that Disney has always appreciated what the state has done for the company and has given back in terms of jobs, community service, taxes, and responsible business practices.[7]

While the feud continues, Iger remains committed to creating age-appropriate content for family audiences that parents can trust. It remains to be seen how the conflict between Disney and the state of Florida will be resolved, but for now, the two parties appear to be at odds.

0. “Bob Iger calls Florida’s actions against Disney World ‘anti-business'” CBS Miami, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/miami/news/bob-iger-calls-floridas-actions-against-disney-world-anti-business/

1. “Disney’s Iger slams DeSantis’ actions as ‘anti-business,’ ‘anti-Florida'” Business Insider, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/disney-iger-desantis-dont-say-gay-anti-business-anti-florida-2023-4

2. “4 big questions about Disney and Ron DeSantis answered” Tampa Bay Times, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2023/04/04/desantis-disney-iger-reedy-creek-moody-investigation/

3. “Disney is in a land war with the state of Florida” The Verge, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.theverge.com/2023/4/4/23669557/disney-florida-ron-desantis-investigation-campaign-election

4. “Disney’s feud with Florida’s Ron DeSantis keeps escalating” Yahoo Entertainment, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/disney-feud-florida-ron-desantis-094300432.html

5. “DeSantis’ Reedy Creek board says Disney stripped its power” Orlando Sentinel, 29 Mar. 2023, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-ne-disney-new-reedy-creek-board-powerless-20230329-qalagcs4wjfe3iwkpzjsz2v4qm-story.html

6. “Disney’s Bob Iger rips Ron DeSantis’ move to ‘punish’ company” New York Post , 3 Apr. 2023, https://nypost.com/2023/04/03/disneys-bob-iger-rips-desantis-move-to-punish-company-that-seems-really-wrong-to-me/

7. “Defiant Disney CEO has a lot to say, accusing DeSantis of punishing free speech” Miami Herald, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article273926290.html

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