Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Info Up for Tomorrow's CIRM Board Meeting, But None on its Financial Condition

Over the last two days, the California stem cell agency has added additional background material to its board agenda for tomorrow and Friday, but the public remains in the dark about such matters as CIRM's detailed views on its financial condition.

The material includes the latest version of the loan administration policy for CIRM's proposed $500 million biotech loan program and changes in research standards for CIRM grantees.

Also up is material connected to the effort by CIRM Chairman Robert Klein to have the stem cell agency join the list of those in Washington trying to climb aboard the trillion-dollar bailout/stimulus gravy train.

Included is a copy of a draft letter presented last week to the CIRM Finance Subcommittee that seems to have been intended to be sent out prior to the board meeting tomorrow. Klein's agenda also includes links to a Jan. 15 version of the House's 258-page stimulus bill and an undated, 76-page "discussion draft" of a report on the proposal.

Missing from CIRM board agenda are any documents having to do with CIRM's budget and financial condition as the state faces a $40 billion budget crisis. On Sunday, State Controller John Chiang is going to start stiffing state creditors – delaying payments for at least 30 days.

This time Chiang said those being stiffed will include "more than a million aged, blind and disabled " who need state assistance "to pay their rent, utilities or put food on their tables."

The stem cell agency is swaddled in relatively comfortable financial security that means that over the short term grantees will continue to be paid along with vendors. Over a longer term, nine months from now, CIRM appears to $435 million short of what it needs to fulfill the terms of all the grants it has approved. CIRM depends on state bonds for cash, and the state is not selling any as its credit rating continues to plummet.

(An earlier version of this item said incorrectly that the state controller would begin issuing IOUs on Sunday.)

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