Friday, September 28, 2007

Lockyer Beats Stem Cell Bond Drum


The California state treasurer's office has generated more publicity for the sale of the state's first-ever stem cell bonds next Thursday with at least one site urging San Franciscans to buy to support a local enterprise.

Tom Dresslar, communications director for Treasurer Bill Lockyer(photo at right), sent out a news advisory Thursday pointing out the sale – a "reminder" from Lockyer. The reminder said,
"California is one week away from making the largest-ever investment in human embryonic stem cell research in the nation and, we believe, the world."
Lockyer also noted,
"The $200 million investment will place California in the forefront of global research using human embryonic stem cells, considered by many experts to hold more potential to help develop treatments and cures for diseases than other types of human or animal stem cells. And it's just a fraction of the $3 billion in bonds authorized by Proposition 71. By contrast, the National Institute of Health since the 2002 fiscal year has funded a total of $131 million in human embryonic stem cell research."
The total bond issue is for $250 million, but about $45-50 million will go to pay transaction costs and to retire the bond anticipation notes that were sold to private philanthropists to help fund the California stem cell agency while it battled legal challenges. CIRM must still repay the state for something like $150 million in loans that helped to provide interim financing. The agency has roughly $1 billion in current bonding capacity that it can use soon. The likelihood is that another big bond sale will come up early next year.

Individual investors have until Oct. 3 to buy the bonds. They get first crack at them because of a new program that Lockyer started this year to make state bonds easily available to the general public. Minimum purchase is $5,000. The bond dividends are federally taxable but exempt from California state taxes. One would think that patient advocate groups might want to spread the word.

The San Francisco Business Times put together a brief piece on Lockyer's reminder. Jim Christie of Reuters also wrote an article. A blog called Sam Spade's San Francisco, the city where CIRM is headquartered, said that the bonds are one of the "best places" for San Franciscans to make an investment.
"The money you invest stays right here in San Francisco and is put to work funding the most cutting-edge medical research on the planet."
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