California’s plan to make reparations to its black residents could cost the state $800 billion — nearly triple the state’s existing budget — economists predicted in a preliminary estimate Wednesday.
The California Reparations Task Force consulted five economists and policy experts to arrive at the number, clarifying that the total does not include compensation for property the group believes has been improperly taken, or for the devaluation of black-owned businesses. California’s total annual budget is currently about $300 million.
The recovery working group will meet on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss costs.
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“We need to go in with an open mind and come up with some creative ways to deal with this,” Reggie Jones-Sawyer, a member of the California Assembly, told The Associated Press.
Jones-Sawyer sits on the recovery committee and is one of two legislators tasked with persuading Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s other legislators to approve the overwhelming spending. The task force faces a July 1 deadline to come up with a dollar amount for how much the state should give its black residents.
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Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer is on the California reparations task force, which found that compensating black residents would cost $800 billion. (Getty Images)
California Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration is considering a massive reparations package for black residents of the state. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas, File)
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“That’s going to be the real hurdle,” said Sen. Steven Bradford, another legislator 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 recovery panel in San Francisco called for $5 million to be awarded to each of the city’s black residents.
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The city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee first revealed its recommendation in January, arguing that the city owed black residents reparations for decades of discrimination. The committee’s chairman, advisor Eric McDonnell, later clarified that the $5 million figure was the result of a “journey” rather than a “mathematical formula.”
While slavery was never legal in San Francisco, or anywhere else in California, reparations activists say the state nevertheless enforced decades of racist policies that economically harmed 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 members of the task force pose for photographs at the Capitol in Sacramento, California, on June 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
In addition to the $5 million 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 on public records for at least 10 years, among other things.
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The state-level panel has yet to determine how black residents would apply and be eligible for compensation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Anders Hagstrom is a reporter at Fox News Digital covering national politics and major news events. Send tips to [email protected], or on Twitter: @Hagstrom_Anders.