The board also announced that it will be expanding disability benefits to employees undergoing treatment for cancer. The previous policy mandated that firefighters in the district receive 100% of their pay while on disability for cancer treatment. That policy has now been expanded to include all district employees who are members of a union.
The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board was appointed by DeSantis in February this year after DeSantis opted to rename the Reedy Creek Improvement District rather than dissolve it, replacing board members with individuals he hand selected.
The shakeup came in the wake of Disney’s public criticism of DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education bill, which came to be known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and prohibits public school educators from discussing issues of gender identity and sexual orientation “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
In response to the criticism, DeSantis suggested that Florida legislators reconsider the Reedy Creek Improvement Act of 1967, which offered Disney generous tax benefits and the ability to govern its own district in Central Florida. The act was repealed in April 2022.
In turn, Disney has sued the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board. Disney alleges that the repeal of the Reedy Creek Improvement Act came in retaliation to its public criticism of DeSantis and thus constitutes a First Amendment violation.
Meanwhile, DeSantis has said he has “basically moved on” from his dispute with Disney.
During the meeting on Wednesday, board chair Martin Garcia characterized the practices of the Reedy Creek Improvement District over the decades as “one of the greatest examples of corporate cronyism in modern American history.”