Newsom declines to publicly support reparations payments recommended by California task force

ByTina Burnside and Christine Sever, CNN
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Newsom does to back reparations recommendations from state task force
California's governor has declined to publicly say whether he'd support reparations payments to some Black state residents recommended by a state task force.

California's governor has declined to publicly say whether he'd support reparations payments to some Black state residents recommended by a task force looking at how to mitigate injustices and discrimination stemming from slavery.

The recommendations approved Saturday outline restitution that, if approved by state lawmakers, could cost billions of dollars to address historical disparities in health care, housing and policing.

"Dealing with legacy is about much more than cash payments," Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who is White, told CNN affiliate KCRA in a statement.

"Many of the recommendations put forward by the Task Force are critical action items we've already been hard at work addressing: breaking down barriers to vote, bolstering resources to address hate, enacting sweeping law enforcement and justice reforms to build trust and safety, strengthening economic mobility -- all while investing billions to root out disparities and improve equity in housing, education, healthcare, and well beyond," Newsom said.

While federal reparations efforts have stalled in Congress, pushes in California and some US cities to atone for harms rooted in slavery -- and address the racial wealth gap -- have gained momentum since the 2020 police killing of George Floyd rekindled the Black Lives Matter movement.

The California task force's recommendations will be presented at its next meeting, then to the state Legislature by July 1. Among possible estimated values of recommended reparations for Black Californians are:

For health care disparities: $13,619 for each year of residency, based on 71-year life expectancy;

For housing discrimination: $148,099 or $3,366 for each year between 1933 and 1977 spent as a resident of the state;

For mass incarceration and overpolicing: $115,260 or $2,352 for each year of residency in California during the 49-year period between 1971 and 2020.

The state's Black population includes more than 2.5 million people.

Newsom in 2021 signed the bill to establish the task force, and five of its nine members are appointed by the governor.

Newsom will continue to partner with the Legislature to advance systemic changes that ensure an inclusive and equitable future for all Californians, he said.

The task force recommendations also have called for a state office to process reparations claims and "identify and mitigate the ways that current and previous policies have damaged and destabilized Black families," to restore historical sites, to support education and to offer free legal aid and other services.

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