Dem lawmaker holds back tears after GOP colleague argues forcing…

A debate over reparations drove one California assemblyman to tears earlier this month after his Republican colleague argued that Asians and Latinos shouldn’t be forced to pay for a measure compensating African American descendants of slaves. 

“I’m concerned about the proposal to help facilitate distribution of reparations,”  Assemblywoman Kate Sanchez (R-Rancho Santa Margarita) said during a hearing on a bill that would establish a “Fund for Reparations and Reparative Justice” in the state Treasury Department. 

Sanchez noted that some economists estimate that reparations recommended by a state task force last year could cost the state upwards of $800 billion — more than 2.5 times its annual budget.

Sanchez strongly opposed the reparations measure, arguing that it is unfair to Asian and Latino Californians. California State Assembly

“To pay for that, you’d need a major tax hike unlike anything this state has ever seen before,” she argued. “I recognize and acknowledge the painful part of our history, [but] the pains of our past should not be paid by the people of today.” 

Sanchez, who is Hispanic, pointed out that more than half of California’s population is “Latino and Asian” and “had nothing to do with slavery, discrimination, Jim Crow laws.”

“It is fundamentally unfair to force these people to pay for this,” she said in opposing SB 1331. 

Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) responded to Sanchez by declaring that “actions are necessary, and that includes reparations.”

“It includes, in some cases, monetary reparations,” he asserted. 

“I understand that it’s hard to ask those of us currently sitting in the legislature to make those commitments, but no one asked black families over generations, if it was OK to take their wealth, if it was OK to enslave them, it was OK to ….”  Kalra said as he choked up and then paused to compose himself. 

“If it was OK to  put their children in generations of poverty,” he continued. “This country became a superpower based upon free labor of African descendants over hundreds of years. We need to recognize it.”

Kalra, who in 2016 became the first Indian American to serve in the California Legislature, argued that “to this day” the state benefits from “what happened to our brothers and sisters in the black community over so many generations.”

Kalra got emotional as he defended the reparations bill. California State Assembly
The bill seeks to create a fund in the state Treasury to put money that would go toward paying reparations for descendants of slaves. California State Assembly

The Assembly Judiciary Committee voted to pass SB 1331. 

It is one of four reparations bills that the California Legislature has reviewed in committees and voted to advance, according to the Sacramento Observer

The California Legislative Black Caucus has introduced 14 reparations bills this year. SB 1331 is not among the 14 bills  put forward by the CLBC, according to the outlet. 

State Sen. Steven Bradford (D), the author of SB1331, argued that reparations could take the form of free college tuition, healthcare and assistance for first-time homebuyers that are descendants of slaves, rather than direct cash payments. 

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