California Governor Gavin Newsom faces a political dilemma regarding a proposal by his own reparations task team to provide up to $1.2 million in government money to every eligible Black person as a form of compensation for slavery and discrimination. The California Reparations Task Force, established by state legislation Newsom signed in 2020, has released its recommendations, which will be sent to the legislature to decide whether to implement them before sending them to the governor to sign into law.
Newsom has not yet expressed his opinion on the proposals, but he may soon be forced to take a position. Critics argue that the proposal is unaffordable and that it would be a political gimmick if Newsom approves it, while advocates contend that it is necessary to address historical injustices. Polls show that a vast majority of Black Americans support reparations, and Newsom risks upsetting a sizable base if he takes no action.
“Newsom wants national publicity on reparations like he received with gay marriage as Mayor of San Francisco. He knows reparations will be ultimately struck down, in which case he can look like a hero and yet blame the lack of reparations on the Trump-appointee dominated Supreme Court.”John Dennis, Chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party to Fox News Digital
The proposals specify payments for categories of past discrimination, such as redlining by banks from the 1930s to the 1970s and overpolicing and mass imprisonment from 1970 to 2020. The task force recommends paying Black Californians with slave ancestry $360,000 each, in total potentially costing the state $640 billion, quadruple the state budget. A 71-year-old Black Californian who has lived in the state all their life may receive up to $1.2 million in total under the plan.
It is unclear how California would fund such compensation given the state’s expected financial shortfall of $22.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year and the previous projection that it would miss Newsom’s January statement by nearly $7 billion. Critics accuse Newsom of using the proposal for political gain, while proponents urge him to adopt it on his own if the legislature does not.
Despite the proposal’s potential benefits, some lawmakers argue that limited tax funds should be allocated to initiatives that benefit all Californians rather than creating conflict between groups. Only three out of 80 assembly members were willing to respond when asked whether they agreed with the task force’s proposal, indicating that the issue is sensitive and politically charged. The governor’s office has not yet commented on the proposal.