Reparations for Black California Residents Could Reach Over $800 Billion

Preliminary estimates for the cost of reparations for Black residents of California indicate it could cost the state over $800 billion, economists said.

Los Angeles long time resident, Walter Foster, age 80, holds up a sign as the Reparations Task Force meets

Image via Getty/Carolyn Cole

Los Angeles long time resident, Walter Foster, age 80, holds up a sign as the Reparations Task Force meets

Reparations for Black residents of California could cost the state over $800 billion, the Associated Press reports.

The reparations task force is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss preliminary estimates from economists, who said the cost to compensate Black citizens could be more than 2.5 times California’s annual budget of $300 billion.

The money would be issued to compensate for over-policing, disproportionate incarceration, and housing discrimination among other issues that have impacted the Black community in California. The preliminary figure, however, does not take into account compensation for property unjustly seized by the government or the devaluation of Black businesses. 

The calculations from the team of five economists and policy experts will be discussed on Wednesday, with the task force set to vote on whether to adopt their suggestions or produce new figures. Residents will only receive the cash payments if the state chooses to adopt such estimates.

The task force is expected to reach a cash amount to recommend to California lawmakers by July 1. The statewide estimate for reparations includes $246 billion for those who were subjected to aggressive policing in their neighborhoods. 

“We’ve got to go in with an open mind and come up with some creative ways to deal with this,” said Assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer, who is part of the task force Critics of the move to issue reparations in California suggest that since the state never endorsed slavery, current taxpayers should not be expected to pay reparations.

The meeting in California came not long after San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors hosted a hearing on reparations, during which they suggested they were open to the idea of payments of up to $5 million to every eligible Black adult. 

“If you look at the [draft] report, you’ll see so many examples of how Black folks were done wrong here in San Francisco, and all of that can really be traced back to the negative effects of slavery, which traced back to negative policies across the country, San Francisco being no different,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton, one of the leaders of the city board's reparations panel.

Similar concerns were expressed over the cost reparations would have on the city of San Francisco. The city is approximately five percent Black, but the community accounts for 38 percent of its homeless population.

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