California Reparations for Black Residents Could Cost $800 Billion, Task Force Considers Options

California's plan to provide reparations to Black residents who qualify could cost the state $800 billion, according to a state panel.[0] The proposed reparations are meant to address generations of over-policing, disproportionate incarceration, and housing discrimination faced by Black Californians. The California Reparations Task Force, created by state legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020, is considering a proposal to give nearly $360,000 per person to around 1.8 million Black Californians who had an ancestor enslaved in the US, putting the total cost of the program at about $640 billion.[1] However, the task force is also considering recommendations from a consulting team of five economists and policy experts, who suggest the payout could be as high as $800 billion.

The reparations task force met on Wednesday to discuss the numbers and take a number of approaches, including voting to adopt the newest recommendations or calculating their own budget for the program.[2] Upon completion, the reparations recommendations from the task force will be presented to the California Legislature for consideration. The Legislature will then decide whether or not to implement the measures and, if approved, send them to Newsom's desk for his signature into law.[1] Last year, the task force made several preliminary recommendations in an interim report, and a final report with the panel's official recommendations is due by July 1 to the state legislature.[3]

While California considers statewide reparations, the city of San Francisco is weighing its own reparations proposals at the local level. In recent weeks, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed a draft proposal containing over 100 reparations suggestions for the city. The recommendations include the provision of $5 million to eligible Black residents.[1] Stanford University's Hoover Institution estimates that implementing $5 million lump-sum payments proposal would incur a cost of at least $600,000 to non-Black families residing in the city.[4] In San Francisco, which has roughly 50,000 Black residents, the city board has expressed interest in various reparations ideas such as a guaranteed annual income of at least $97,000 for 250 years and a home in the area for just $1 per family.[1]

However, it is unclear how California or San Francisco would afford to pay for large-scale reparations.[4] In January, it was declared by Newsom that the state is confronted with an estimated budget shortfall of $22.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.[4] A few weeks later, the California Legislative Analyst's Office, which is responsible for analyzing the budget for the state legislature, released a report stating that Newsom's prediction was off by approximately $7 billion.[4]

Reparations for Black Americans have been a hotly debated topic in recent years, with growing momentum following the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020. San Francisco and California are not the only places exploring reparations. Other jurisdictions, including Los Angeles, Asheville, North Carolina, and Evanston, Illinois, have formed committees, commissions, or task forces to consider reparations.[5]

Critics of reparations argue that it is an unfair burden to place on present-day taxpayers who had no role in the historical injustices that occurred. However, proponents argue that reparations are necessary to address the systemic and generational harm inflicted on Black Americans, and that it is the government's responsibility to repair the damage caused by past policies and practices. As the debate over reparations continues, it remains to be seen whether California and other jurisdictions will be able to implement these proposals and how they will fund them.

0. “As support for reparations grows statewide, anger simmers in Alameda County” The Mercury News, 30 Mar. 2023,

1. “‘$5 million is too little:' Activists tell California reparations committee to aim higher” Fox News, 29 Mar. 2023,

2. “California's reparations plan could cost $800 billion, more than 2.5x the state's annual budget: report” New York Daily News, 29 Mar. 2023,

3. “Reparations Task Force to Host Second Sacramento Meeting This Week” Sacramento Observer, 28 Mar. 2023,

4. “Newsom falls silent after calls for him to take executive action on reparations” Yahoo Life, 27 Mar. 2023,

5. “Alameda County commission formed to look at reparations for Black people” msnNOW, 29 Mar. 2023,

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