California Committee Approves Controversial $800 Billion Reparations Bill Amid Budget Concerns

A California State Legislature committee has given the green light to a bill that could allocate an astonishing $800 billion for slavery reparations`, a figure that exceeds 2.5 times the state’s annual budget. The decision, which stems from the recommendations of California’s Reparations Task Force, has sparked controversy, as California historically never practiced slavery, and the individuals set to receive reparations were never enslaved themselves.

The Reparations Task Force, established through Assembly Bill 3121 in 2020, consists of eight black members and one Asian member. Its purpose is to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans, educate the public on its findings, and recommend appropriate remedies. The task force ultimately voted in favor of recommendations that could include payments of at least $360,000 to each eligible black resident in the state.

On May 21, 2024, the bill was passed in the California State Senate with a vote of 30-7, following a motion for reconsideration and a series of procedural votes. During a hearing by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, State Rep. Assemblywoman Kate Sanchez, the sole member to voice concerns, highlighted the potential economic impact of the reparations bill.

Sanchez pointed out that with Latinos and Asians making up 55% of California’s population, most of whom are first, second, or third-generation immigrants with no connection to slavery or Jim Crow laws, it would be “fundamentally unfair” to force them to pay for reparations. She also warned that the bill would require an unprecedented tax hike to fund the estimated $800 billion in reparations.

California is currently grappling with a significant budget shortfall for the fiscal year 2024-25, with the Legislative Analyst’s Office projecting a deficit of up to $73 billion, while Governor Gavin Newsom estimates the deficit at $37.9 billion. The reparations bill’s potential cost has raised concerns about its feasibility and impact on the state’s already strained budget.