Reparations Debate Heats Up as California Senate Approves Restitution Measures Amid Budget Deficit


Tuesday, the California Senate moved forward a package of ambitious reparations bills. One of these bills would create an agency to help Black families study their family trees and make sure they are eligible for any future state restitution.

Lawmakers also passed bills to set up a fund for reparations programs and pay Black families for land that the government took from them illegally through eminent domain. Now the plans go to the state Assembly.

A Democrat from the Los Angeles area named Steven Bradford said that California “bears great responsibility” to make up for wrongs done to Black Californians.

Bradford said, “If you can inherit wealth from someone else, you can also inherit debt from someone else.” “Reparations are a debt that goes to people whose ancestors were slaves.”

The ideas, which mostly passed along party lines, were part of a group of bills that were based on the suggestions of a unique task force that looked into how the state could make up for its history of racism and discrimination against African Americans for two years. This year, lawmakers didn’t come up with a plan to give large payments to the children and grandchildren of Black people who were slaves. This has made many people who want justice very angry.

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A bill that was first presented in the 1980s to look into reparations for African Americans has been held up in the U.S. Congress. Illinois and New York recently passed laws to look into reparations. But California is the only state that has gone further in its research into reparations plans for Black Americans.

Sacramento suburbs Republican state Sen. Roger Niello said he agrees with the eminent domain bill’s “principle,” but he doesn’t think people across the state should have to pay families for land that was taken by local governments.

The votes come in the last week for lawmakers to pass bills in their home chamber. This comes just a few days after a key committee stopped a bill that would have helped descendants of slaves with their property taxes and housing. Last week, the state Assembly moved forward a bill that would make California officially apologize for its history of discrimination against Black Californians. To say sorry for the state’s past of violence and mistreatment of Native Americans, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote an official apology in 2019.

Some people who are against reparations say that lawmakers are making too many promises about what they can do for Black Californians while the state has a huge budget problem.

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