Florida’s DeSantis wants special session to address Disney’s status

(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he’s calling a special session that will deal with Disney’s autonomy and other issues “in a week or two.”

He made the announcement during a news conference in Milton concerning broadband infrastructure grants through the Department of Economic Opportunity for rural areas.

“I think they’re going to do a special session in a week or two,” DeSantis said. “About a whole bunch of different things that need to be taken care of, including making sure that Disney doesn’t have self-governing status anymore.”

Disney governs the Walt Disney World complex under the Reedy Creek Improvement District, where acts essentially like a county government. It was established by state law in 1967.

DeSantis also wants to use some of the state’s $20 billion surplus to pay down its debts.

“I think we’re well positioned to do better than most other states and were fiscally certainly positioned to do that…making sure that we’re doing things so that communities are able to prosper.” DeSantis said.

The Debt Reduction Program will be seeded with $400 million, and the funds be invested by the State Board of Administration, where five percent of returns will be used to reduce that debt.

As for broadband, the state DEO will administer the grants for rural areas to improve their access. This initiative will help those rural families who rely on services like telehealth services to keep in touch with their health care providers.

“We’re expanding access to high-speed internet. It’s important for the way our society functions, and so we were able to secure $400 million last year to expand broadband access.” DeSantis said.

He also said that the funds are for all of Florida and that 41 counties will be receiving $144 million in broadband access grants.

Rural areas will also be receiving more funding for additional infrastructure needs.

“We’re asking for $30 million for rural infrastructure in this year’s budget,” DeSantis said, adding that the program grants will also be available to populated counties who also have gaps in reliable service.

“It’s just necessary for our economy…These are critical things to have,” DeSantis said.

— Andrew Powell

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