Calif. reparations task force pitches over 100 policy changes, cash payments

The panel’s push for cash reparations for Black residents is already viewed as dead on arrival in Sacramento.

Capping a process that started three years ago, the California Reparations Task Force released its final report and submitted it to the California Legislature for consideration on Thursday. 

The task force is recommending a formal apology from the state to its Black residents and various policy proposals, as well as monetary reparations. 


The backstory: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill in 2020 to create the task force after the death of George Floyd. 

  • The nine-member body first met in 2021 and was facing a July 1 deadline to submit its final report to the legislature. 
  • Last month the task force approved the draft report, which formed the basis of Thursday’s final recommendations. 

The big picture: While the task force previously estimated that reparations could give each Black Californian who can trace their ancestry to slavery or to ancestors who immigrated before 1900 around $1.2 million, the final report states that it will be up to the legislature to determine a specific dollar amount. 

  • The overall dollar amount in reparations considers various health harms, mass incarceration, over-policing, housing discrimination, unjust property takings and the devaluation of African American businesses. 
  • The report recommends that the legislature issue a formal apology for all the harms and atrocities committed by California for facilitating slavery and discrimination – similar to the state’s formal apology to Native Americans. 
  • “Apologies alone are inadequate reparations to victims,” the report reads. “But when combined with material forms of reparations, apologies provide an opportunity for communal reckoning with the past and repair for moral, physical, and dignitary harms.” 
  • The task force also recommended over 100 policies, including abolishing the death penalty, removing the barrier of proving one’s identity to vote, increasing jury participation of convicted felons, property tax relief to Black Californians, adopting a K-12 Black Studies curriculum, eliminating Black child support debt and providing a guaranteed income program for eligible Black residents. 

What we’re watching: With the report in hand, the legislature will review the recommendations and have the ability to implement them as lawmakers see fit. But Gov. Gavin Newsom will have the final say with his veto power, and last month he spoke more in favor of a systemic overhaul than cash payments.

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