California Gov. Gavin Newsom is staying silent as his state considers doling out potentially hundreds of billions of dollars to Black residents in reparations as a way to make amends for slavery and subsequent discrimination.
Newsom, a Democrat, has yet to take a position or comment publicly on the prospect of his state potentially enacting a slew of recent reparations proposals that are gaining steam in California. The governor’s office didn’t respond to any of Fox News Digital’s repeated requests for comment regarding his views on the issue and whether he’s considered taking executive action to implement the plans being discussed if the California Legislature doesn’t act.
The California Reparations Task Force, which was created by state legislation signed by Newsom in 2020, is considering a proposal to give 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.
The task force’s final recommendations for reparations 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.
Newsom’s silence on reparations comes amid growing calls for him to use his power to unilaterally enact the task force’s proposals for the state’s Black residents if the legislature doesn’t.
“The task force is doing the grunt work of preparing final recommendations, but at the end of the day these recommendations are non-binding and still require uncompromising political will to enact remedies that will begin to address centuries of compounded harm,” Dreisen Heath, an expert and leading reparations activist, recently told Fox News Digital. “Governor Newsom has the authority to enact these recommendations, if they are in fact aligned with the entire descendant community’s wishes, following the issuance of the final report on July 1, and should do so, if state lawmakers fail to act.”
Last year, the state task force made several preliminary recommendations in an interim report. A final report with the panel’s official recommendations is due by July 1 to the state legislature.
The committee was created amid the unrest following the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. None of the panel’s nine members, the majority of whom were appointed by Newsom, are White.
The task force had initially proposed $220,000 per person for Black Californians last year but recently increased the figure by more than 60% to $360,000 as one of many ideas being mulled to give out reparations.
Economists and scholars consulting with the task force came to the latest proposal by using a model that evaluated California’s racial wealth gap, calculating damages related to injustices such as housing discrimination, mass incarceration and health harms.
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.
Still, Lisa Holder, a task force member and president of the far-left Equal Justice Society, vowed in a recent opinion piece that the committee’s “recommendations will be breathtaking.”
Meanwhile, as California considers statewide reparations, the city of San Francisco is weighing its own reparations proposals at the local level.
Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors expressed “unanimous” support for a draft plan of more than 100 reparations recommendations for the city, including a proposal to dole out $5 million each to qualifying Black residents. The proposal of $5 million lump-sum payments would cost non-Black families in the city at least $600,000, according to Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
The city board also expressed interest in other forms of reparations for San Francisco’s roughly 50,000 Black residents, such as a guaranteed annual income of at least $97,000 for 250 years and a home in the area for just $1 a family.
Another idea under consideration is a “comprehensive debt forgiveness” program that would clear all personal, educational and credit card debt of low-income Black households.
Like California, San Francisco is also facing a massive deficit, estimated at $728 million, making it unclear how the city would pay for such a reparations plan.
According to Heath, local efforts in San Francisco or other cities to pay out reparations shouldn’t absolve any state, including California, or the federal government from also paying out their own reparations.
“San Francisco’s work at the local level must function to address localized harms and does not negate the U.S. government or the state of California for redressing its crimes,” she recently told Fox News Digital. “It is not the job of any city to remedy harms manufactured by the federal or state government.”