One director, Philip Pizzo, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, at one point described the presentations as akin to "a route to darkness."
CIRM's financial plight is the result of California's inability to sell state bonds because of the state's $40 billion budget crisis. CIRM relies on bond sales for funding. It has approved $635 million in grants, many covering several years, but currently does not have the cash to fund all of them.
The CIRM staff went through a detailed financial presentation, based on what we heard on the first ever audio Webcast of a CIRM board meeting. However, many of the specifics were not clear because the PowerPoint presentations containing them could not be viewed.
Nonetheless, the overall financial situation seemed challenging, to say the least.
CIRM Chairman Robert Klein promoted his plan to sell state bonds privately, which would appear to be the first ever such effort in the nation. The discussions also disclosed that the state of California is moving to sell other state bonds privately as well, which could theoretically make the state and CIRM financial competitors. Klein said, however, potential buyers of the CIRM bonds are not likely to be targeted by the state treasurer's office.
The briefings disclosed that even if the state budget crisis were solved tomorrow, CIRM would face financial difficulties. That's because it takes time to bring bonds to market. Bonds supporting more critical needs would be sold well before the state would consider offering the CIRM bonds.
Sherry Lansing, a CIRM director and head of a nonprofit foundation bearing her name, said,
"I don't think there is any other choice...We would be irresponsible not to try to do this(sell bonds privately)."Following the staff presentations, the board adjourned for dinner. At the time of this writing, they are gathering to resume their meeting and continue the financial discussions. The proceedings can be heard by using the directions in the items just below.