California lawmakers consider reparations bill

by ian

California is considering multiple reparations bills to apologize for the harm caused by systemic racism in the past.

The package was introduced last week and covers criminal justice reforms, property rights, education, civil rights and food justice. The new policies would specifically help individuals who trace injustices back to the 19th century. 

The task force that introduced the package has been working on these measures since 2020, following the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. While other states have formed similar task forces in the past few years, California would be the first state to enforce these new policies.

However, these reparations do not include direct cash payments, as some were hoping.  Activists have pushed for payments of $1 million to people over the age of 70. In 2023, PBS reported that this price point would, coupled with other spending plans push the cost of reparations to north of $800 billion. That’s a price tag the state isn’t willing to stand behind with the current state debt at roughly $38 billion. 

At the same time, The Berkeley IGS Poll shows that while California voters may empathize with the history of black residents, they don’t necessarily think these issues should lead to a change in policy today. Everyone, including Democrats, seems to be divided on reparations.