California allocates up to $12 million for reparations bills, marking a significant step towards addressing the impact of a racist past.

In a significant move towards addressing the historical wrongs perpetrated against Black Californians, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a budget that will allocate up to $12 million towards reparations legislation. The move comes as part of California’s ongoing efforts to acknowledge and make amends for the systemic racism and discrimination experienced by the state’s Black community. This marks a crucial step in the direction of equity and justice for those who have faced generations of systemic oppression.

Over the weekend, Governor Newsom signed a $297.9 billion budget that includes funding for reparations. However, there are no details on which programs the funds will go toward. Direct payments to Black Californians are not being considered this year.

California’s state Legislature is currently considering a number of proposals aimed at addressing historical injustices against Black residents. One proposal seeks to issue a formal apology for the state’s role in perpetuating discrimination against this community. Another proposal aims to establish an agency that would oversee reparations programs. Additionally, lawmakers are working on identifying families who had their property seized unjustly through eminent domain. These efforts are a step towards acknowledging past wrongs and working towards a more equitable future.

Decades have passed since federal reparations efforts came to a standstill. However, there is good news as funding has been allocated to address this issue.

According to state Sen. Steven Bradford, a Democrat from the Los Angeles area, the budget reflects our values and priorities. He further added that the fact that there is any money allocated for reparations should be considered a reason for celebration. However, he expressed his hope that the allocation would have been more substantial.

California has been leading the way in considering reparations proposals for Black residents, but other states have also made notable progress. In recent years, Illinois and New York have passed laws to investigate reparations proposals for African Americans. Meanwhile, Florida established a college scholarship fund in the 1990s for descendants of Black residents who were victims of a 1923 massacre at the hands of a white mob.

However, some individuals who are against the reparations proposals being reviewed by California lawmakers argue that taxpayers should not be responsible for rectifying past policies and practices.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher believes that while slavery was a dark and regrettable chapter in America’s history, it is not justifiable to make up for the past’s mistakes at the cost of innocent people today. According to Gallagher, it is not right to expect immigrants to bear the burden of a 150-year-old issue that they had no involvement in. He stated, “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?”

During an event on Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Mike McGuire, a Democrat, expressed that the allocated $12 billion was insufficient. Despite the challenging budget year, lawmakers collaborated to secure the funds.

According to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, running the reparations agency could cost the state anywhere from $3 million to $5 million per year. Meanwhile, the Legislature has not yet released an estimated cost for implementing the eminent domain bill. However, the Senate Appropriations Committee has reported that it may cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars to investigate claims made by families who believe their land was taken due to racially discriminatory reasons.

In May, a vital committee blocked Bradford’s proposals to provide property tax and housing assistance to descendants of enslaved Black people.

The absence of legislation for free tuition at public colleges for descendants of enslaved Black people, which was recommended in the final report of the first-in-the-nation state reparations task force chaired by Kamilah Moore, has left her disappointed that lawmakers did not take action on it this year.

Moore expressed that despite the budget only including $12 million for reparations, it was still a positive step forward. He deemed it as “good news” and a promising starting point for the topic of reparations.

According to an expert, acknowledging the harms and atrocities done to a particular population is a significant step towards taking accountability and responsibility. She emphasized that such actions should not be overlooked, as it shows a willingness to make amends for past wrongdoings.


This report includes contributions from writer Trân Nguyễn at the Associated Press.


Meet Austin, a talented blogger and exceptional copywriter with a strong command of the English language. At present, Austin is serving as a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. This initiative is part of the Report for America program, a nonprofit national service program that recruits and places journalists in local newsrooms to cover underreported issues. You can keep up with Austin’s work by following their Twitter handle, @sophieadanna.

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