Another liberal-led state has formed a commission to investigate the possibility of paying reparations to Black residents.
On Tuesday, New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new bill that creates a committee that will consider whether reparations should be paid to certain people for slavery.
The community commission that has now been created will study slavery’s history in the state, as well as what a reparation payout might look like.
Nicole Carty, who serves as the group Get Free’s executive director, commented:
“You can see the unreckoned-with impacts of slavery in things such as Black poverty, Black maternal mortality.”
Carty and her group were main advocates of the bill. Calls for its passage really ramped up after a mass shooting in Buffalo that was racially motivated.
New York abolished slavery in 1827, 36 years before it was done throughout the U.S. Yet, much racial segregation persisted for years after that. Proponents of reparations have said that those actions also resulted in Black people losing out on opportunities such as home ownership that still have reverberating effects today.
Not only are reparations controversial, though, they are also not very logical, from a budgetary standpoint.
A study conducted by Pew Research in 2021 found that 77% of Black people in America support reparations, yet only 18% of white people do.
Hochul acknowledged the controversy about her actions when she said:
“I know the word ‘reparations’ brings up a lot of conflicting ideas for people. A lot of people instinctively dig in when they hear it, without really thinking about what it means or why we need to talk about it.
“Today, I challenge all New Yorkers to be the patriots and rebuke – and not excuse – our role in benefitting from the institution of slavery.”
One of the main problems facing New York – and other states like Illinois and California that have considered such actions – is that it would be very hard for them to afford it.
In May, the task force that California created suggested a program of reparations that would pay every Black resident $1.2 million. That astronomical number would have devastating effects on the state’s budget, as it would push it into a huge deficit.
The city of San Francisco also had initiated its own reparations task force, yet had to cut that office completely just to meet the city’s necessary budget cuts of $75 million.
Evanston, a city in Illinois, took a slightly different approach, offering housing grants that could be worth as much as $25,000 to Black residents. Through August, the city had given out more than $1 million in these grants.
New York, though, would have quite the uphill climb in passing any reparations program – or paying for it. Right now, the state is projecting a major budget deficit of $4.3 billion for the 2024 fiscal year.
So, adding a major expense line item like reparations would be a tall task indeed – not to mention the fact that many state legislators are against it altogether.