Calif. reparations panel advances $1.2mil payment recommendation to Legislature

California lawmakers will ultimately decide if taxpayer funds will be used to pay reparations.

California’s reparations task force has officially approved the recommendations for payments and an apology to the state’s Black residents for slavery and discrimination. 

The proposal could give $1.2 million to each Black Californian who can trace their ancestry to slavery or to ancestors who immigrated before 1900. 


The backstory: California formed the reparations task force in 2020 after the death of George Floyd. 

  • The nine-member committee first met two years ago and had a deadline set for July 1 to submit its final recommendations to the legislature. 

The big picture: The task force met in Oakland on Saturday and voted to approve a series of recommendations, which includes a formal apology from the legislature for all harms committed or promoted by the state to its Black population, an action in the same vein of the state’s apologies for the mistreatment of Native Americans and for placing Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II. 

  • The recommendations propose payments to Black residents to cover three areas: mass incarceration, housing discrimination and harms to health. 
  • Those payments would fluctuate based on the total number of years a Black person has lived in California, but the task force estimates that they could end up paying out over $1.2 million to someone who has lived in the Golden State for his or her entire life. 

What we’re watching: After finalizing its recommendations, the task force will now send them to the state legislature for consideration, along with Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

  • Economists working with the task force previously estimated that the final price tag on reparations payments could rise over $800 billion, but California’s annual budget is currently around $300 billion. 
  • If the legislature decides to move forward with the reparations, lawmakers will need to come to an agreement with Newsom on a funding source. 

What they’re saying: Asm. Reggie Jones-Sawyer is also a member of the task force and said Saturday that any movement from the state to finalize reparations will take time. 

  • “Giving the impression that funds will become readily available – or that cash payments are recommended by the task force to rectify marginalization caused by generations of reckless policies and laws – is not focusing on the real work of the task force or the report itself,” Jones-Sawyer told CalMatters. “There is a process by which the legislature will look at and discuss all recommendations, and that will take some time.”
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