California is weighing handing billions of dollars in reparations to black residents, with supporters insisting that such a move will bring down crime rates originating from the community, while others warn that reparations remain a “bad idea.”
One of the reparation models under consideration by the California Reparations Task Force would make the state owe roughly $360,000 per person to 1.8 million black Californians who had an ancestor enslaved in the United States, bringing the total amount to $640 billion.
The task force is a nonregulatory state agency established in 2020 to study and develop reparation proposals for black Americans who are descendants of slaves.
Ward Connerly, founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, warns that the move is wrong.
Though California is a progressive state, “we’re not insane, and so I think that the people of this state would rise up and say ‘no,’” Connerly said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” he said.
Almost 6.5 percent of residents in California, amounting to about 2.5 million people, identify as African American or black.
State Budget Strain
It’s unclear where the state is expected to collect the $640 billion estimated as reparation disbursements. The amount is more than double the $297 billion budget for the 2023–24 fiscal year proposed by Newsom.
In addition, California is projected to suffer a $22.5 billion budget deficit for the coming fiscal year. The state is also battling a weak economy, with the tech sector especially affected amid mass layoffs.
California already imposes one of the highest tax rates in the country.
The $360,000 proposed payments are more than 60 percent higher than the $220,000 payments proposed last year.
The task force has limited reparations only to descendants of black people who were living in the United States as of the 19th century. The entity is yet to decide whether the reparations should also apply to people who lived in the state and intended to stay but were displaced.
The California Reparations Task Force is scheduled to provide its recommendations on the matter to the state Legislature by July 1, after which it will be the lawmakers who will decide on the issue.
San Francisco Proposal
Various cities in California, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, are also pushing forward their own reparation proposals. In San Francisco, the African American Reparations Advisory Committee is proposing that black residents who have been victims of “systemic repression and exclusion” be awarded $5 million per eligible individual.
“While neither San Francisco, nor California, formally adopted the institution of chattel slavery, the tenets of segregation, white supremacy and systematic repression and exclusion of Black people were codified through legal and extralegal actions, social codes, and judicial enforcement,” according to the committee’s draft reparations plan.
“A lump sum payment would compensate the affected population for the decades of harms that they have experienced, and will redress the economic and opportunity losses that Black San Franciscans have endured, collectively, as the result of both intentional decisions and unintended harms perpetuated by City policy.”
The draft proposal also recommended a “comprehensive debt forgiveness” program that clears off all personal, educational, and credit card debt of low-income Black households.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.