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State Advisory Panel on Reparations Calls for Payments to Black Californians; Legislative Response Unclear

A California panel approved recommendations on Saturday that could mean hundreds of billions of dollars in payments to Black residents to address past injustices. The proposals to state legislators are the nation’s most sweeping effort to devise a program of reparations.

The nine-member Reparations Task Force, whose work is being closely monitored by politicians, historians and economists across the country, produced a detailed plan for how restitution should be handled to address a myriad of racist harms, including housing discrimination, mass incarceration and unequal access to health care.

Created through a bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in the wake of the nationwide racial justice protests after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the panel has spent more than a year conducting research and holding listening sessions from the Bay Area to San Diego.

It will be up to legislators to weigh the recommendations and decide whether to forge them into law, a political and fiscal challenge that has yet to be reckoned with.

The task force’s final report, which is to be sent to lawmakers in Sacramento before a July 1 deadline, includes projected restitution estimates calculated by several economists working with the task force.

One such estimate laid out in the report determined that to address the harms from redlining by banks, which disqualified people in Black neighborhoods from taking out mortgages and owning homes, eligible Black Californians should receive up to $148,099. That estimate is based on a figure of $3,366 for each year they lived in California from the early 1930s to the late 1970s, when federal redlining was most prevalent.

To address the impact of overpolicing and mass incarceration, the report estimates, each eligible person would receive $115,260, or about $2,352 for each year of residency in California from 1971 to 2020, during the decades-long war on drugs.

Read entire article at New York Times