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DeSantis says Florida could take control of Disney's special district

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FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Florida's Republican-backed "Don't Say Gay" bill gather outside Walt Disney World
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(Reuters) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Monday he wants the state, not local governments, to take control of Walt Disney Co's special district when it is scheduled to be dissolved in June next year.

The Republican governor last month signed a bill that will eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District in Central Florida, a special governing jurisdiction that has allowed the company to operate Walt Disney World Resort as its own city since the late 1960s.

DeSantis has been locked in a feud with the entertainment company since its leaders came out in opposition of a new state law that limits the teaching and discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools.

DeSantis told a news conference on Monday that rather than have local communities absorb jurisdiction over Disney, it is "more likely that the state will actually assume control."

His administration is working on proposals for what will happen when Reedy Creek is dissolved, but they will not be taken up by legislators until after the November election, he said.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under Florida law, local governments would inherit the assets and liabilities of Disney's district, the Orlando Sentinel reported https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/os-ne-desantis-disney-world-reedy-creek-plan-20220516-eq6h2jprd5f2ndcwjip6qsnpim-story.html, an eventuality that some local officials have warned could have dire consequences for taxpayers.

Experts have said the financial impact of the legislation on the company and the state is unclear at this stage.

Without elaborating, DeSantis on Monday reiterated that Disney will be responsible for honoring its nearly $1 billion bond debt and that the company will pay its "share of taxes."

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York; Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis)