Reparations for slavery in New York? Kathy Hochul signs controversial bill

According to Rob Ortt, Republican leader of the state Senate, the measure will have an “astronomical cost” for taxpayers.

On Tuesday, Kathy Hochul signed a controversial bill that will create a commission to analyze racial reparations based on slavery. The measure, which was promoted by activist and former presidential candidate Al Sharpton, was quickly criticized by state Republicans, who already argued that it would entail an "astronomical cost" for New York taxpayers.

The legislation was passed in June with the goal of creating the aforementioned nine-member commission to "examine the institution of slavery" and "make decisions regarding compensation." Three members will be appointed by the state governor, another three by the state Assembly and the remaining three by the state Senate.

According to the text, the commission will have one year to present a written report on its conclusions and recommendations to the state legislature.

"In New York, we like to think we're on the right side of this. Slavery was a product of the South, the Confederacy. What is hard to embrace is the fact that our state also flourished from that slavery. It's not a beautiful story, but indeed it is the truth," said the Democrat during the ceremony in which she signed the legislation.

New York state is the third state, all led by Democrats, to establish commissions to analyze reparations for slavery. The first was California in 2020, followed by Illinois.

As for the state governed by Gavin Newsom, his task force determined that it was appropriate to pay about $500 billion to black Americans. However, slavery was illegal in California when the territory joined the Union in 1850.

Republican reactions

The measure did not go down very well with the New York GOP, and this was made known by Rob Ortt, a Republican leader in the state Senate. According to him, the legislation will involve an "astronomical cost" for taxpayers.

"The reparations of slavery were paid with the blood and lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans who fought to end slavery during the Civil War," he said.