Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is in a political no-win situation when it comes to a proposal by his own reparations task force to pay up to $1.2 million in taxpayer money to every qualifying Black resident as a means to atone for slavery and discrimination.
Newsom has yet to weigh in on the recommendations by California Reparations Task Force, which was created by state legislation he signed in 2020. While the formal recommendations were approved by the task force during a public meeting in Oakland on Saturday, they’ve been working on the plan for nearly two years.
Newsom has chosen to remain silent on the issue even though he may soon be forced to choose a side. The task force’s final recommendations will be submitted to the California Legislature, which will then decide whether to implement the measures and send them to Newsom’s desk to be signed into law.
“This has been a fool’s errand from the start,” James Gallagher, California Assembly Republican Leader, told Fox News Digital. “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.”
SAN FRAN’S REPARATIONS COMMITTEE PROPOSES $5 MILLION TO EACH BLACK LONGTIME RESIDENT, TOTAL DEBT FORGIVENESS
The task force’s recommendation breaks payments down by types of historical discrimination. For instance, Black residents affected by redlining by banks would receive $3,366 for each year they lived in California from the early 1930s to the late 1970s, amounting to up to $148,099.
Similarly, Black residents could receive roughly $2,352 in compensation for over-policing and mass incarceration for each year they lived in California between 1970 and 2020. Those payments could amount to $115,260.
The task force recommends giving just under $360,000 per person to approximately 1.8 million Black Californians who had an ancestor enslaved in the U.S., putting the total cost of the program at about $640 billion, exceeding the state budget by more than double.
In total, from these and other payments included in the plan, a Black Californian who is 71 years old and has lived in California his entire life could receive up to $1.2 million, according to analysis from the New York Times.
It’s unclear how California would pay for large-scale reparations. Newsom announced in January that the state faces a projected budget deficit of $22.5 billion for the coming fiscal year. Then weeks later, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, a government agency that analyzes the budget for the state legislature, estimated in a subsequent report that Newsom’s forecast undershot the mark by about $7 billion.
CALIFORNIA’S REPARATIONS PANEL APPROVES PAYMENTS OF UP TO $1.2 MILLION TO EVERY BLACK RESIDENT
Proponents have called on Newsom to use his authority as governor to unilaterally enact the proposal if the legislature doesn’t. The governor risks angering a large constituency if he fails to act, as polls have shown the vast majority of Black Americans support slavery reparations.
Critics argue that Newsom will use the lofty proposal to score political points because he views it as a non-starter in the state legislature.
“Newsom wants national publicity on reparations like he received with gay marriage as Mayor of San Francisco,” John Dennis, Chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, told Fox News Digital. “He knows reparations will be ultimately struck down, in which case he can look like a hero and yet blame the lack of reparations on the Trump-appointee dominated Supreme Court.”
“Everyone knew California didn’t have the financial means to pay reparations when this commission was created,” said Republican Assemblyman Bill Essayli. “Now the Governor has ripped open the painful generational wounds of slavery under false pretenses and false expectations. Why? For cheap political points.”
“Slavery was never legal in the state of California—something we can be proud of in this state,” he said. “When the Governor’s reparations commission recommends spending billions of taxpayer dollars on reparations, it sends the wrong message that some hardworking taxpayers owe others for a crime they had nothing to do with. We must instead focus on investing precious tax dollars on projects that benefit all Californians rather than drive division between groups.”
CalMatters recently asked all 80 assemblymembers whether they supported the task force’s proposal, and only three said yes, while the rest declined to respond.
The governor’s office didn’t respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment regarding his views on the proposal or whether he would sign a bill enacting it.
Fox News’ Aaron Kliegman and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.
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