Gov. Gavin Newsom Says Slavery Reparations Plan ‘About More Than Cash Payments’

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that reconciling with descendants of slaves in the United States is about “more than cash payments” after his Reparations Task Force recommended millions of dollars in compensation to black residents of the state.

In a statement to Fox News Digital on May 9, Newsom said that the nine-member task force’s independent findings and recommendations “are a milestone in our bipartisan effort to advance justice and promote healing,” calling the work that has been done so far “an important process,” but he stopped short of endorsing the plan to pay black California residents as much as $1.2 million per person.

“We should continue to work as a nation to reconcile our original sin of slavery and understand how that history has shaped our country,” Newsom said.

However, the Democrat governor went on to note that “dealing with that legacy is about much more than cash payments.”

“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. This work must continue,” he said.

Newsom’s comments come after the California Reparations Task Force, established by the governor in 2020, voted on May 6 to approve reparation proposals for black descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

California was admitted to the union as a free, nonslavery state under the Compromise of 1850.

Payment Recommendations Explained

Under the task force’s recommendations, the state would pay reparations to each black resident in California, based on several qualifications, according to documents released by the task force (pdf).

Payments would be established in various ways.

For example, eligible black residents of the state could receive housing reparations of up to $148,099, or $3,366 for each year between 1933 and 1977 they spent as a resident of the state of California, to cover housing discrimination.

Additionally, black Californians could receive roughly $115,260, or $2,352 for each year of residency in California from 1971 to 2020 to cover the “disproportionate law enforcement” which “reduced the quality of life for all African Americans who lived in the state during the war on drugs.”

Black-owned businesses could also receive a lump sum of up to $77,000 to address the “discriminatory policies” that “resulted in the decimation and devaluation of African American businesses.”

Similarly, $13,619 would be made available to those who qualify to address the “discriminatory policies” that “have led to devastating health consequences for African Americans in California.”

The state would also issue a formal apology that constitutes an “acknowledgment of the facts and acceptance of responsibility,” according to task force documents (pdf).

“Apologies alone are inadequate to provide justice to victims or redress wrongs. But when combined with material forms of reparations, apologies provide an opportunity for communal reckoning with the past and repair for moral, physical, and dignitary harms,” the task force noted.

“An effective apology should both acknowledge and express regret for what was done to victims and their relatives and take responsibility for the culpability of the apologizing party,” it added.

Other recommendations include creating a new agency to ensure the payments are processed in an “efficient and timely manner,” abolishing the death penalty, making Election Day a paid holiday and providing support to essential workers to help boost access to polls, adopting a universal health insurance system in the state, providing free tuition to California Public Colleges and Universities for those eligible for reparations, and bolstering efforts to restore voting rights to people formerly or currently incarcerated, among others.

Critics Issue Warnings

It is currently unclear where California will get the money for these payments.

The recommendations come at a time when the state, like much of the United States, is dealing with high inflation. Gas prices in California are $4.81 per gallon as of May 10 compared to the national average of $3.53, according to AAA.

Commenting on the recommendations, Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher said on May 9 that “this has been a fool’s errand from the start.”

“Democrats have promised the world with this reparations task force, and now the massive taxpayer bill is coming due. Newsom has painted himself into a corner, and he’ll have to choose between signing off on a ridiculous policy that will bankrupt the state or admitting once and for all that this task force was nothing more than a political stunt,” Gallagher wrote on Facebook.

California’s Reparations Task Force is set to submit its final recommendations to the California Legislature in the coming months and lawmakers will then decide how to implement the recommendations before they can be signed into law.

Newsom told Fox News Digital that “following the Task Force’s submission of its final report this summer, I look forward to a continued partnership with the Legislature to advance systemic changes that ensure an inclusive and equitable future for all Californians.”

From The Epoch Times

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