Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is under major scrutiny (again) after the announcement that Disney will be canceling a $1 billion expansion it was planning in the state.
This is the latest move in the bitter battle between Florida’s governor and the empire that houses the world’s most famous mouse.
The cries of outrage from the liberal left include the traditional woes of missed economic opportunities for the sunshine state.
All the blame, they say, falls on Ron DeSantis for his “anti-LGBTQI+ and anti-free speech policies.”
Let’s unpack this.
Not Anti-LGBTQI+, Just Pro-Kids
First, it was the liberal media that dubbed Florida’s HB 1557 as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Try to search for the actual name of the bill – Florida Parental Rights in Education – and you’ll come up short in the press.
This misrepresented the aim of the bill, which was to protect children from sexual education and indoctrination without parental permission.
The most controversial piece of the legislation prohibits public schools from having “classroom discussion” or giving “classroom instruction” about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to third grade.
It also prohibits public schools from adopting procedures or student support forms that maintain the confidentiality of a disclosure by a student, including of the gender identity or sexual orientation of a student, from parents, and requires public schools to bear all the costs of all lawsuits filed by aggrieved parents.
I don’t know any parent that wouldn’t be okay with preventing sexual education to a child under the age of eight. Anything else is aptly called grooming.
Webster’s definition of groom is “to get into readiness for a specific objective.” I can’t think of better terminology for introducing sexuality to a child who in no way has the maturity to fathom the notion of sex, sexual preference, and gender.
Disney, a company that produces so-called family and child-friendly content, was pressured by activist employees, mostly in California, to oppose the Florida legislation.
They chose this battle. Ron DeSantis is merely finishing it.
True Economic Consequences
While most are seeing red over the continued culture clash, claiming Disney is “sticking it to DeSantis,” many outlets are remiss in reporting that the Disney expansion would not have brought in more revenue to the state via tourism or recreation taxes. Exactly the opposite.
Like many companies of late, Disney was looking to cut its expenditures by moving approximately 1,000 employees to a more business-friendly state. The move to the planned Lake Nona Town Center was to take advantage of “Florida’s business-friendly climate,” according to one of Disney’s executives, Josh D’Amaro.
Bob Iger contested, “Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?”
Pssst, Bob. There is no state income tax in Florida, so the only revenue the state would receive from more employees not directly related to an increase in tourism would be from sales tax. A loss to be sure, but not the devastating blow many are making it out to be.
Christina Pushaw, Governor DeSantis’s Rapid Response Director, shot back to a critic on Twitter:
“Also, those “2,000 jobs” wouldn’t be for Floridians. They would be Californians relocated to Florida, to drive up rents, increase traffic, put more stress on the ecosystem, and vote for the same type of insane libs that ruined their home state (which is also my home state).”
She’s not wrong. Disney needs Florida more than Florida needs it.
And more and more residents in states such as Florida, Texas, and Tennessee, claim while they welcome refugees from blue cities, they don’t want them bringing their politics – or their morals – with them.
At the end of the day, it’s the bottom line that matters to Disney and given its financial woes, the company isn’t going anywhere. Amidst the cancellation of the move, D’Amaro noted Disney still plans on investing $17 billion in its Florida operation in the next decade.
Ron DeSantis Counters
Ron DeSantis countered opponents telling a group of supporters at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire, exactly where things stand with Disney.
While the war may have been rooted in culture clashes, the fact remains that Disney has been an unwarranted beneficiary of special privileges for a long time.
“They want to have their own government at Disney… they’ve had their own government for 50 years. It’s massive corporate welfare. We’re not doing that. They’re going to live under the same laws as everybody else. They’re going to pay their fair share of taxes and they’re not going to govern themselves.”
Ron DeSantis is exactly right to emphasize the errors of corporate capture, particularly at a time when more and more voters are skeptical of the cozy relationship between government and big business and tech.
“To put one corporation on a pedestal and let them be exempt from the laws is not good policy, it’s not free market economics, and it’s not something our state’s going to be involved in. The chance of us backing down from that is zero.”
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review.