Monday, December 12, 2011

New Multibillion Dollar Stem Cell Bond Measure Wins Endorsement with a Caveat

A blogger on the web site of Los Angeles television station KNBC today supported a new multibillion bond measure for the California stem cell agency but with an interesting qualification.

Joe Mathews, author and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, said the new bonds should be backed by a tax on the people and companies involved in the business of health care. He wrote,
"New stem cell moneys can't come out of funds that would otherwise go to other programs."
Mathews said voters "probably" shouldn't approve another multibillion dollar bond measure for CIRM that is paid back through the state's general fund. He wrote, however,
"(T)hat doesn't necessarily mean there shouldn't be another stem cell bond. California's major universities have invested in stem cell research, with help from the agency.

"Major researchers have relocated to the state. And the unknown nature of stem cell research's promise, while frustrating efforts to justify the research dollar for dollar, argues for doing more to learn more.

"What the state budget picture does require is that any stem cell bond should have a clear funding mechanism -- a specific tax or new revenue source (some sort of levy on companies and people involved in the business of health care) -- that would be more than enough to pay back any bond."
Mathews is co-author of "California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It," which declares that the initiative process is one of major fault points in California government. The initiative was used to create the $3 billion stem cell agency in 2004, making it immune from normal state government accountability and locking in funding that cannot be touched by the legislature or government despite any other financial needs of the state.

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