California’s plan to provide reparations to its Black residents could cost the state $800 billion – nearly triple the state’s current budget – economists predicted in a preliminary estimate Wednesday.
California’s reparations task force consulted five economists and policy experts to arrive at the number, and clarified that the total does not include compensation for property the group says was unjustly taken, or for downgrading value of Black-owned businesses. California’s total annual budget is currently around $300 million.
The reparations task force is meeting Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the cost.
“We have to go in with an open mind and come up with some creative ways to deal with this,” California Assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer told The Associated Press.
Jones-Sawyer sits on the reparations committee and is one of two lawmakers tasked with convincing Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state legislators to accept the lavish spending. The task force faces a July 1 deadline for coming up with a dollar figure for how much the state should give its Black residents.
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“That will be the real obstacle,” said Sen. Steven Bradford, another lawmaker who sits on the panel. “How do you pay for hundreds of years of damage, even 150 years after slavery?”
The panel’s findings come nearly a month after a similar reparations panel in San Francisco called for giving $5 million to each of the city’s Black residents.
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First the city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee announced its recommendation in January, arguing that the city owes compensation to Black residents for decades of discrimination. The committee’s chairman, consultant Eric McDonnell, later clarified that the $5 million figure came as a result of a “journey” rather than a “mathematical formula.”
Although slavery was never legal in San Francisco, or anywhere else in California, reparations activists say the state imposed decades of racist policies that economically disadvantaged Black residents and favored their white counterparts. counterpart.
In addition to the $5 million in payments, San Francisco’s proposal also called for debt forgiveness. To be eligible for the proposed program, an applicant must be 18 years old and have identified as Black or African American in public documents for at least 10 years, among other criteria.
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The state-level panel has yet to determine how Black residents will apply and qualify for compensation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.