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California Allocates $12 Million for Reparations to Address Racial Injustices

Measure was approved through a legislative proposal that addressed a $46 billion budget deficit

California Allocates $12 Million for Reparations to Address Racial Injustices

California is set to allocate $12 million in the first round of reparations funding to address the state’s history of discrimination against black residents.

Social justice advocates acknowledge that this is only a starting point and emphasize that much more needs to be done to atone for California's past racial injustices.

“It means that they’re taking accountability and responsibility, and they’re acknowledging the harms and the atrocities to this particular population,” Kamilah Moore, who chaired the state’s reparations taskforce, told the Associated Press (AP). “That’s a huge step that should not be overlooked.”

Moore expressed disappointment that no further legislation was introduced to address the broader recommendations in the task force’s lengthy report, which spans some 1,000 pages. If fully enacted, the task force’s proposals could could cost the state up to $800 billion.

The $12 million in reparations payments is part of a $297.9 billion budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law over the weekend.

While the legislation does not specify the programs the funds will support, it is intended to cover the costs of legislative changes currently under consideration to assist black residents in the state.

These programs may include grants for individuals from historically redlined neighborhoods and funding to reduce violence in predominantly black areas. However, lawmakers have not yet proposed bills authorizing direct payments to black residents.

A recent UC Berkeley/IGS survey found that 59 percent of Californians oppose monetary distributions for reparations, with 44 percent saying they “strongly oppose” such plans.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers introduced 14 reparations bills. Proposals under consideration include issuing a formal apology for California's role in sustaining discrimination against Black residents, creating reparations programs, and identifying families whose homes were seized through eminent domain.

“We often say the budget is a reflection of our values and our priorities, so the fact that there’s any money for reparations should be a reason for celebrating,” state Sen. Steven Bradford, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, told the (AP).

He added that he hoped the allocation in this year’s budget would have been higher.

Opponents of the reparations proposals argue that current taxpayers should not be held responsible for addressing injustices from the past.

“Slavery was a stain on our nation’s history, but I don’t believe it’s fair to try to right the wrongs on the past at the expense of the people today who did nothing wrong,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher said in a statement cited by the AP. “More than a quarter of Californians are immigrants — how can we look at those people, who are struggling as it is, and say it’s on them to make up for something that happened more than 150 years ago?”

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