No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

When Profit-Raking Disney and the Daytona Speedway Beg Florida for Corporate Welfare

| January 19, 2012

Woody likes the hand-outs. (© FlaglerLive)

By Mary Jo Melone

Those generous people at Disney charge us lucky Florida residents just $99 for a three-day park pass – not a bad bargain.

The Meltdown, if you’re a parent, is anything but cheap.

For me, a new mom a decade ago, it came as we left the park after a long day. My three-year-old demanded that we get a cup out of the trash that we had thrown away as we left. You know the rest. Overwhelmed parents drag screaming, overwhelmed child to the SUV. Exhausted family heads home in silence. Parents swear, in a vow they will inevitably break, to never go to Disney again.

Time for a change of plans: if Disney gets what it wants out of the Florida Legislature, we all ought to stay home.

Disney is asking the state for an array of tax breaks that could cost Floridians $20 million or more a year over the next 10 to 20 years. Maybe as much as $100 million, according to legislative analysts cited by the Orlando Sentinel, which first reported the story.

florida voices columnists flaglerlive

Disney isn’t alone in sticking its corporate hand out. International Speedway Corp., owner of Daytona International Speedway, is also in on the deal.

Admire their chutzpah. They’re making their demands in the face of a state budget shortfall that could be $2 billion.

Appreciate their sense of humor. Disney and Co. is supposedly so wonderful for children, but it’s the children who will suffer if this giveaway goes through.

Gov. Rick Scott wants to put an extra $1 billion towards education — money he cut last year and paid mightily for — by taking it out of the hides of children and their mothers. He and the Legislature are trying to privatize Medicaid, making cuts and charging, among other fees, $10 monthly premiums per person. A single mother with three children would spend $40 a month — enough to force people already on the edge to drop out of Medicaid.

How much worse should conditions get for children? According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 23 percent of Florida children live in poverty. Seventeen percent have no health insurance. Over 16 percent of the state’s households, and that includes a lot of children, don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, says Feeding Hunger in America, a national non-profit organization.

Disney says the tax breaks will help it build a bowling alley. A really big bowling alley, to be sure, with 100 lanes.

The raceway people want an entertainment complex next to the Daytona speedway.

They’ll create jobs, they say. And more circuses. At the expense of getting sufficient bread, and health care, for children.

Note: International Speedway Corp. reported $9.7 million in profit in the third quarter in 2011, despite a drop in revenue. Disney reported a profit increase of 30 percent, to $1.1 billion, in the 4th quarter. Mary Jo Melone, former columnist with the St. Petersburg Times, is a writer in Tampa.

Print Friendly

28 Responses for “When Profit-Raking Disney and the Daytona Speedway Beg Florida for Corporate Welfare”

  1. roco says:

    If it was’nt for Disney and the Daytona Races, Florida would be a swamp and no one to take care of it..

  2. palmcoaster says:

    Sure no breaks of any kind, to these Florida families that get treated with total abuse of human rights by these foreclosure Florida judges protecting the greedy wealth of these bailed out banks by the same citizens who’s homes are being taken away now.
    Rick Scott and his croonies legislators need to tell Disney to lower the repugnant pay of their VIP’s. Example: Disney’s Mr. Robert A. Iger , 61 Chief Exec. Officer, Pres, Director and Member of Exec. Committee pay 16.26Million/year and Mr. James A. Rasulo , 55 Chief Financial Officer and Sr. Exec. VP pay 5.08 Million/year and the list goes on, on the next Disney profile link:
    Also Nascar owner James France Jr. asking even for more hand outs from us thru Scott and company? When James C France, inherited his fortune from his father Bill France who started Nascar in 1947 and built the Daytona Speedway thank to the free ocean front beach use in Daytona. James net worth is $1 billion and growing. Also Lesa Kennedy France, isn’t far behind. While the Frances must declare how much they make from their stake in International Speedway Corp., a publicly held company that operates 12 tracks, their exact income from NASCAR, a privately held company, is a well-kept secret. Wonder why and on top they want us to subsidize them even more?

    • Begonia says:

      I hate to mention this, but just why do you think the Prez was going to be at Disney today. Do not blame all this on our Gov.

      How about kicking every politician who is not doing his job out of Florida?

      • Anita says:

        “I hate to mention this, but just why do you think the Prez was going to be at Disney today. Do not blame all this on our Gov.”

        I dunno. I thought it was because he needed a large venue to accommodate the crowds. In any case, I have strong doubts that he has any influence over the Gov. and the Floridea Legislature in regard to this matter. After all, he couldn’t get them to take the stimulus funding for local projects, now could he?

        • Begonia says:

          Stimulus money isn’t going to help us in the long term to build a sustainable state budget.

          Families should have been given stimulus money, not unions, corporations, banks, wall street.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    @ Roco. I came to Florida for the first time in 1964 way before Orlando Disney opened in 1971 and Florida was beautiful and was just fine!
    Less traffic, less crowded, less pollution and less expensive. So Disney did great for themselves I would say. We small Florida businesses the real creators of real and decent paid jobs, don’t expect, ask or get any tax breaks, tax exemptions or bailouts and is also just fine! You can always donate individually if you wish to “these capitalist vultures” as looks like their story telling has you convinced.

  4. agnese says:

    The state already gives out too many tax breaks and incentives to the “big guys”, take it out of their profits!

  5. Liana G says:

    No more corporate welfare. If there is money to be made from these expansions, they will find a way to do it on their own own. With the profits they make, they can afford to. AND if they need loans, rest assured THEY will get favorable loan terms and not be conned by predatory lending practices.

    Yes, they are among FL largest employers and revenue producers – with 40 million visitors visiting Disney alone each year. In addition, Disney is currently lobbying for relaxed holiday visa standards to attract more foreign visitors which will be great for the overall economy. But lawmakers need to look at how these expansions and increase tourism will affect additional expenses cities will incur, increase traffic congestion, environmental hazards, etc. In addition, Orlando is projected to have a major drinking water crisis by 2014. How does Disney propose to deal with this? These companies should not be allowed to dump these headaches on the citizens of FL while asking for millions of dollars to too! This is preprosterous!

  6. palmcoaster says:

    Dear Begonia.You got that right is your Gov, not mine as I did not vote for him. Regarding the Prez I only saw in the news that he was visiting Florida and not specifically Disney.But maybe you are correct and I missed that. maybe after all he is bringing his daughters along? and that could be the reason for him going there? One thing is to take your kids to Disney, another is to approve lobby for 100 million tax break for them. Not that I am enamored with our Prez due to his lack of compliance with his promised Change. Too much time wasted on useless conservative butt kissing in his first two years and we are still wasting money in these wars, money that we don’t have and need to create jobs here.

    • Begonia says:

      Listen to what Liana is saying…. the purpose of the trip was to open up visa requirements for millions more visitors to this area and Disney, most specifically Brazil.


      Good post, Liana. Does not matter who voted for who. When the Prez comes to town to announce big new changes, we need to pay attention and find out who really is going to benefit and how much it is going to cost us.

      This visit was very subtle and it was intended to be that way.

  7. palmcoaster says:

    Begonia your were correct the Prez was in Disney…. promoting tourism. Number one industry in Florida.

  8. Begonia says:

    Obama’s executive order aims to: boost non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent this year; expand a Visa Waiver Program that allows participating nationals to travel to the U.S. for stays of 90 days or less without a visa; appoint a new group of chief executives to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board; and direct an interagency task force to develop recommendations for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy, including promoting national parks and other sites.

    Again I say, why Brazil?

    Read more:

    • Anita says:

      “Again I say, why Brazil?”

      Most of Europe’s economies are in deep trouble, so we can’t look to Europe for tourists. Brazil has one of the fastest growing economies in S. America, they have buckets of money to spend, and because we are a predominantly tourist economy ~ nothing more sinister than that. So what’s your objection to Brazil and how come you’re not questioning Chinese tourism , too?

      • Begonia says:

        Did I say I had an objection? It’s that 40% increase in the visa thing I am curious about. More potential voters?

  9. some guy says:

    All corps. should pay/have the same tax rate. the story says how much less they might pay but never says how much they do PAY now why is that.

  10. Rob says:

    Prior to Disney in Florida we had many tourist attractions and tourist related businesses in Flagler County. Marineland was by far the biggest attraction in the area. Other attractions included Animal Land, Florida Reptile Gardens, Parrot Village, and a sea shell museum. There were many mom and pop motels, gift shops such as Jungle Hut, shell shops and restaurants that depended on the tourist traffic. Most of these places have gone out of business since the maga attractions opened in Central Flroida.

  11. Doug Chozianin says:

    Stop corporate welfare.

    If family recreation and sports teams can’t stay in business without my tax money let them move elsewhere or go out of business.

  12. sly fox says:

    Being a native….growing up in Winter Park, I can totally relate to Rob…..What I want to know is where the government is getting all this money? If Disney & Daytona Speedway have record profits, then its absurd they ask for tax breaks. Sure, they employ a lot of people, but that is still no reason. I go to Disney, but never to the parks. We pool hop & don’t spend a dime! Pack a lunch & drinks, off we go! Sea World also had a profitable year & gave all their employees a raise!

  13. palmcoaster says:

    @ Begonia…why Brazil? and why not..? Do you have any reservations about Brazilians or is just because they are also South of the border? The reason to open a “non visa for Brazilian tourists” is so they come and spend their dollars here, other than elsewhere. Their flourishing economy of the last 10 years have moved to middle class the past poor levels of their social structure. Brazilians have now good amounts of cash they earn and want to spend and we should welcome that cash for investments and tourism to create jobs here. We should learn from them. Brazil “exports to China and the Far East” unlike we, that are broke because we “import all from China and fund the war machine in the Far East and Middle East”. Brazil very wisely put limits to imports by making the trade balance even, with “you buy from me as much in $$$ as I buy from you”. Also Brazil didn’t demonize or undermine their poor, to the contrary help them to get jobs and propelled millions into the middle class. They didn’t fire their needed government employees that serve the tax payers, they hired more to better serve their citizens. Now those hired millions pay taxes and spend what they earn making for a very flourishing Brazilian economy.
    President Lula Is Behind Brazil’s Success:
    When elected in 2002, Brazil’s President Lula made economic growth his top priority. He stimulated the economy by increasing government spending, providing government jobs to the middle-class, and developing Brazil’s natural resources. In 2006, he won re-election against former Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin in a landslide victory, 61% to 39%.
    Brazil Paid Off IMF Loan Early:
    In a highly unusual move for a Latin American country, Brazil paid off its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a year ahead of time. Brazil’s final payment of $15.46 billion was aid by the end of December 2005. The funds came from Brazil’s monetary reserves of $66.7 billion.
    Here at home thanks to the ill conservative advise and the Tea Party prejudice wishes, we are doing the opposite and caving ourselves a deeper hole, simply because is not the 1% that sustains our country but the 99% tax paying and spending middle class and poor. So then, this is why Brazil, Begonia. Welcome, Bem-vindo Brazilians!

  14. some guy says:

    Doug Chozianin says:
    January 20, 2012 at 9:27 am
    Stop corporate welfare.

    If family recreation and sports teams can’t stay in business without my tax money let them move elsewhere or go out of business.

    OK so how is it “corporate welfare” when disney is not asking for YOUR tax money or tax money FROM us/Government???

  15. The Truth says:

    It’s interesting that this news comes out around the time the Chief of Disney made 31.8 million last year. They make plenty of money. We do not need to give them any breaks.

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      Disney is already the #1 tourist destination in this country. Anybody been to Orlando Airport lately? It’s jammed with tourists from other countries, so are restaurants and hotels.

      I’m not sure why he came, but I found it odd there were no elected officials there with him.

  16. rickg says:

    Thanks Mary Jo for pointing out that Republicans are against welfare as long as its not labeled Corporate Welfare. This is a disgrace. ISB and Disney should rethink their strategy and become good corporate citizens, Yeah I know…. wishful thinking

  17. palmcoaster says:

    @Oneofthe10%. To the contrary of what you said….there were some elected local officials with the Prez, one was Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer..probably more.
    Tourist from Brazil will come and visit our attractions and beaches here because is less expensive than visiting their ocean front in Rio and San Paulo, wether paying now 10 to 20 dollars for just a hamburger and 35 dollars for a margarita is not unusual within an environment where the street tugs are very active.
    In comparison our Miami and other beach fronts as well as our attractions are safe heavens for them.
    The additional magnets are all the shopping goods and great deals in clothing, sport shoes, beauty products, electronics, small appliances, etc. that they can take home at one half or less of the cost and better quality, of what they pay in Brazil. If we all think those items that we buy here are expensive try to buy them south of the border and will find out. The only thing they may have less expensive are some local food items or restaurants and of course domestic helpers (maids, gardeners, nannies).
    Our USA is still heaven and that is why your see Orlando-Miami packed with tourist. We just need to recover our outsourced jobs, to bring that heaven back to us Americans and these tourist may be the key.
    We may do not have the lushious palm trees as in the Brazilian beaches, …yet in our beaches North of F. Lauderdale….just need to plant some native palmeto. But we offer in exchange an invaluable safety.

  18. Huh? says:

    I wanted to go to Disney last week when B.O. was there, but my tickets had a “black out” date!!!!

Leave a Reply

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive


support flaglerlive palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam
news service of florida

Subscribe to FlaglerLive

Get immediate notification of new stories.

Log in
| FlaglerLive, P.O. Box 354263, Palm Coast, FL 32135-4263 | 386/586-0257