California Dem lawmaker gives black residents a reality check on reparations payments

With reparations recommendations on a course toward the state legislature, even California Democrats are cautioning black residents not to get their “hopes up” as some of the extreme aims are “just not happening.”

Assembled by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in Sept. 2020, the California Reparations Task Force has bandied about suggestions that, were they enacted into law, could mean as much as $1.2 million in handouts. Now, Democrats seem set on cramming that genie back in the bottle as a chorus of reality checks has begun to ring out.

During a recent interview, according to the Associated Press, California state Sen. Steven Bradford, a member of the task force who represents parts of Los Angeles County, cautioned constituents to remain “realistic” despite acknowledging “anything’s possible if the money’s there.”

“I don’t want to set folks’ expectations and hopes up that they’re going to be getting, you know, seven-figure checks. That’s just not happening,” he said.

Bradford was addressing the fact that the task force was able to recommend whatever it was they wished, but it would ultimately be the responsibility of the legislature to determine how such lofty efforts, estimated to cost the state as much as $800 billion, would actually be paid for.

Setting activism ahead of reality, reparations advocacy group Coalition for a Just and Equitable California organizer Marcus Champion had said, “That is not the way you come to the table to pay a historic debt. That is not the way that you come to the table in any type of negotiation. Start as high as you possibly can, and then work from there.”

Even Newsom had tempered the widely reported proposals costing well over the annual state budget of $300 billion as he had said, “dealing with the legacy of slavery is about much more than cash payments.”

“The Reparations Task Force’s independent findings and recommendations are a milestone in our bipartisan effort to advance justice and promote healing. We need to wait for the Task Force to finish its work and submit its final report,” he contended.

Adding to the rainfall on the reparations parade was Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, another representative on the task force, who had said, “We have absolutely no idea right now what will or will not be approved.”

The final report from the task force is due before the legislature by July 1 and within the 500 pages of documents voted on by the panel were proposals for $77,000 to black-owned businesses, $13,619 for “injustices and discrimination in health,” and a to be determined “down payment” meant to placate recipients until final sums and a structure for disbursal could be established.

“Given that the process of calculating the amount of some of the losses and determining the methods and structure for issuing payments could involve a lengthy process,” the report read,” the task force further recommends that the legislature make a ‘down payment’ with an immediate disbursement of a meaningful amount of funds to each member of the eligible class.”

Kevin Haggerty


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