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BREAKING: Disney drops suit challenging special district status in settlement with Florida, DeSantis

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A settlement was reached Wednesday in the two-year lawsuit over who controls the special governing district that encompasses the Walt Disney World Resort, which includes Disney dropping its lawsuitsagainst a newly created tourism board.

“We are glad that Disney has dropped its lawsuits against the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and conceded that their last-minute development agreements are null, void, and unenforceable,” Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ communications director, said in a statement. “No corporation should be its own government. Moving forward, we stand ready to work with Disney and the District to help promote economic growth, family-friendly tourism, and accountable government in Central Florida.”

Fox News explains the dispute began “after Disney’s criticism of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act – derided by critics as the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill – prompted the DeSantis administration to revoke the special Disney-controlled tax district that gave the entertainment autonomy over its theme parks in the region.”

“No corporation should be its own government,” Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for the governor, said in an emailed statement. “Moving forward, we stand ready to work with Disney and the District to help promote economic growth, family-friendly tourism, and accountable government in Central Florida.”

Misleadingly deemed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibited the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to young students in the state. National Review reports:

After receiving pressure from employees, Disney’s then-CEO, Bob Chapek, said that the company’s leaders had been opposed to the bill “from the outset,” and Disney declared that the legislation “should never have passed and should never have been signed into law.”

In February 2023, DeSantis signed House Bill 9B, which established the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to replace Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. Reedy Creek was a 56-year-old special taxing district that allowed Disney control its own development, regulations, building codes, and other municipal services.

Lawmakers voted to give the governor the power to appoint the district’s board members.

However, before a DeSantis-appointed board took over last March, the Disney-controlled board handed control of the district’s development over to Disney…

As part of the settlement, Disney acknowledges that the development agreement approved by the outgoing Reedy Creek board has “no legal effect or enforceability.”

As for the media reports that DeSantis had been humiliated and out-maneuvered by Disney, Griffin said that “as usual, the media were wrong.”

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Report: Denver area migrants cost $340 million to shelter, educate

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A report by the free-market Common Sense Institute found the more than 42,000 migrants who have arrived in Denver over the last year and a half have cost the region as much as $340 million. The city of Denver, local school districts, and the region’s health-care system have spent between $216 million and $340 million combined to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the migrants, and to provide them with emergency medical care.

National Review explains the report builds off a previous report from March that conservatively found that the migrants had cost the region at least $170 million. “Costs are never localized,” said DJ Summers, the institute’s research director. “They expand outward.”

Democratic leaders are being blamed for their welcoming posture toward immigrants generally, and their sanctuary-city policies, which curtail law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Since late December 2022, at least 42,269 migrants — or “newcomers” as Denver leaders call them — have arrived in the city, adds National Review.

The Common Sense Institute report found that the migrant crisis has also hit local emergency rooms hard with extensive expenses. Since December 2022, migrants have made more than 16,000 visits to metro emergency departments. At an estimated cost of about $3,000 per visit, that has resulted in nearly $48 million in uncompensated care.

Summers said those costs are “stressing existing health care organizations,” but they also indirectly hit residents in their pocketbooks through increased insurance prices.

Metro school districts have endured the biggest financial hit — estimated between $98 million and $222 million — according to the Common Sense Institute report. The large range in costs is due to the difficulties researchers had identifying exactly how many new foreign students are tied to the migrant crisis.

The researchers found that since December 2022, 15,725 foreign students have enrolled in local schools. Of those, 6,929 have come from the five countries most closely identified with the migrant crisis — Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

On average, it costs a little over $14,000 to educate a student for a year in a Denver-area public school, but Summers said migrant students likely cost more.

“They have transportation needs that are different, they have acculturation needs that are going to be different, language assistance needs that are going to be different,” he said. “Many of them might need to get up to speed in curriculum. They might need outside tutoring.”

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved $24 million in state funding to help school districts statewide plug budget holes related to the migrant students.

Summers said the updated Common Sense Institute tally is likely still missing some costs related to the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are definitely additional costs. We just don’t have a great way to measure them just yet,” he said, noting legal fees, crime, and unreported business and nonprofit expenses.

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