Reparations for black Californians could cost $800 billion, economists warn


California’s plan to issue reparations to its black residents could cost the state $800 billion – nearly triple the existing state budget, economists predicted in a preliminary estimate on Wednesday.

California’s Reparations Task Force consulted five economists and policy experts to determine the number, clarifying that the total does not include compensation for property the group says has been wrongfully taken or for devaluing black-owned businesses. California’s total annual budget is currently around $300 million.

The reparations task force meets Wednesday and Thursday to discuss costs.

“We need to go about it with an open mind and find 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 charged with convincing Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s other lawmakers to take on the staggering spending. The task force faces a July 1 deadline to determine a dollar amount for how much the state should give its black residents.

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Rep. Reggie Jones-Sawyer is a member of the California Reparations Task Force, which determined it would cost $800 billion to compensate black residents. (Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration is considering a massive reparation package for the state's black residents.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is considering a massive reparation package for the state’s black residents. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas, File)

“That’s going to be the real hurdle,” said Sen. Steven Bradford, another lawmaker who sits on the panel. “How do you compensate for hundreds of years of damage, even 150 years after slavery?”

The panel’s findings come about a month after a similar redress panel in San Francisco called for a $5 million grant to every black resident in the city.

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATION WANTS REPARATIONS PROPOSAL TO BE A STATEWIDE “BLUE PART” BEYOND “FINANCIAL COMPENSATION”.

First, the city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee published its recommendation in January, arguing that the city owes black residents compensation for decades of discrimination. The committee’s chairman, consultant Eric McDonnell, later clarified that the $5 million figure was the result of a “journey” rather than a “calculus”.

While slavery was never legal in San Francisco or anywhere else in California, reparations activists say the state has nevertheless enforced decades of racist policies that economically hurt black residents and favored their white counterparts.

FILE - Dr.  Amos C. Brown, Jr., vice chairman of the California Reparations Task Force, right, holds a copy of the book Songs of Slavery and Emancipation as he and other task force members pose for photos at the Capitol in Sacramento, California March 16. June 2022.

FILE – Dr. Amos C. Brown, Jr., vice chairman of the California Reparations Task Force, right, holds a copy of the book Songs of Slavery and Emancipation as he and other task force members pose for photos at the Capitol in Sacramento, California March 16. June 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

In addition to the $5 million payments, the San Francisco proposal also called for debt relief. To be eligible for the proposed program, an applicant must be 18 years of age and identify as Black or African American in public documents for at least 10 years, among other criteria.

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The state-level body has yet to determine how black residents would apply for compensation and qualify.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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