Fifty-nine percent of California voters oppose cash payments, while 29% of voters support the idea, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll that was cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times. A total of four-in-ten respondents reported they “strongly” oppose cash reparations.
The poll comes after Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill in 2020 that established the California Reparations Task Force, which was launched to explore how the state could lead the nation on a potential reparations program.
“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive. Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions,” Newsom said at the time. “California’s rich diversity is our greatest asset, and we won’t turn away from this moment to make right the discrimination and disadvantages that Black Californians and people of color still face.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Sacramento, California, January 10, 2023.(AP Photo/José Luis Villegas, File)
The task force published its final report earlier this summer and recommended compensating qualifying Black residents up to $1 million in cash payments from the state, along with other benefits such as eliminating child support debt and free tuition to public colleges. The cash recommendations from the task force would address issues such as health disparities, housing discrimination and mass incarceration.
The task force, for example, recommends that eligible descendants of slaves receive $13,619 for each year of California residency to address health disparities, and $2,352 for each year of residency from 1971 to 2020, when the war on drugs raged, to compensate for mass incarceration and over-policing.
A crowd listens to speakers at a reparations rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco, on March 14, 2023.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Broken down by political party, a whopping 90% Republicans said they oppose cash reparations, with only 5% saying they support it, according to the poll, while 43% of Democrats said they support cash reparations, and 41% said they oppose such a measure. Sixty-five percent of Independents reported they don’t support the idea, compared to 22% who do.
Respondents who oppose the idea most often cited two reasons: “It’s unfair to ask today’s taxpayers to pay for wrongs committed in the past,” and “It’s not fair to single out one group for reparations when other racial and religious groups have been wronged in the past,” according to the LA Times.
Long-time Los Angeles resident Walter Foster, age 80, holds up a sign as the Reparations Task Force meets to hear public input on reparations at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on September 22, 2022. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)(Getty)
The poll found that Black voters were the most likely demographic to support the idea, at 76%, compared to 16% who said they oppose it. Six in ten Asian and Latino voters said they oppose the idea, while nearly two-thirds of White voters reported the same, the LA Times reported.