California currently faces a $25 billion budget deficit, despite reporting a nearly $100 billion surplus for the current fiscal year in May.
Nearly 6.5 percent of California residents, or 2.5 million, identify as black or African American.
Newsom signed legislation creating California’s reparations task force in 2020, making it the only state to move ahead with a scheme to study the effects of slavery and to educate the public about its findings. The task force published a 500-page interim report in June 2022 (pdf).
The task force voted in March to limit any reparations to descendants of free or enslaved black people residing in the United States after the Civil War rather than for all black people in general.
The governor has been aggressively pushing a plan for years to financially compensate black residents of California for decades of state-led discrimination after emancipation from slavery.
The task force’s economic consultant team came up with the amount by reviewing historical racial housing gaps and estimating the approximate amount of financial losses to black people in the state between 1933 and 1977, according to The New York Times.
The housing discrimination program will cost the state $559 billion. The committee claims that black residents lost $5,074 per year in California under previous state housing policies.
“The $559 billion figure is in reference to a scope of work document presented to the California Reparations Task Force by its five member economic consultant team during our September public hearing in Los Angeles,” said the task force in a statement to Fox News.
The $559 billion figure represents California’s “maximum liability” for prior acts of housing discrimination by the authorities “if all 2,550,459 Black California residents who lived in the state in 2021 were descendants of the enslaved in the United States and had spent the entire time period from 1933 to 1977 in California,” the task force said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
Task Force Investigated Post-Slavery Discrimination
The reparations task force said it toured the state, meeting with members of the black community, to research the financial impact of discrimination on black Americans after emancipation in California.
They found that several black neighborhoods and communities were unfairly bought out, or seized via eminent domain for state infrastructure projects.
Black American households are financially less well off compared to their white neighbors, according to the 2019 Federal Reserve Board Survey of Consumer Finances.
Based on total assets and liabilities, black households in the the United States had a median of $24,100 and an average of $142,500 in wealth, whereas white households had a median of $188,200 and an average of $983,400.
The panel is now expanding its mandate from housing discrimination into the racial disparities caused by mass incarceration, property seizures, devaluation of businesses, and lack of access to health care, The New York Times reported, adding that the task force was looking at different way of distributing reparations, such as direct deposits, tuition, or housing grants.
Although the panel lacks legislative authority, it can make recommendations based on its findings to the California Legislature. The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for mid-December, according to the state’s website.
A final report recommending the total amount of reparations is expected to be released in June 2023.