Friday, August 14, 2020

Tough Editorial Calls for Rejection of $5.5 Billion Stem Cell Measure; Therapies Have not Materialized

 A hard-hitting editorial this morning ripped this fall's $5.5 billion ballot measure to refinance the California stem cell agency, declaring that the proposal was unnecessary and "out of the question."

The article appeared online in the the San Jose Mercury News and the East Bay Times in the San Francisco Bay Area. It declared: 

"Long-term, sustained funding was never the intent when California voters passed Proposition 71 in 2004, authorizing the state issuance of $3 billion of bonds for stem-cell research....

"It’s time for California’s stem-cell agency to continue its work as a self-sustaining non-profit or close down and allow federal grants and private business to push the industry forward."

The editorial on Proposition 14 was the toughest of the four that have surfaced so far, going point by point through expectations aroused by the campaign of 2004 and CIRM's performance since then. 

On the state vs. federal research, the editorial said,

"Finding therapies for devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes should be primarily the federal government’s responsibility."

On theoretical cost savings running as high as $1.1 trillion, it said,

"If those eye-popping, speculative estimates sound familiar, they should. Prop. 14 supporters made similar suggestions in 2004. But 16 years later the savings and life-saving therapies have not materialized."

On financial returns to the state, the editorial said, 

"In 2004, overzealous promoters of Prop. 71 said the state could expect as much as $1.1 billion in royalties from stem-cell research within 35 years. But, so far, the independent Legislative Analyst Office’s reports the state’s stem-cell efforts have provided just $350,000 in royalties."

On conflicts of interest, it said, 

"Prop. 14 does little to eliminate that ethical issue. If anything, it makes it worse by adding an additional six members to its board without substantially altering the selection criteria. Don’t look for elected state officials to provide the needed oversight. Prop. 14 prevents the Legislature from making any amendments to the law without a 70% vote of approval from both the state Senate and Assembly."

The editorial concluded, 

"California’s stem-cell research effort does not merit another $5.5 billion investment of state taxpayer funds. Vote no on Prop. 14."

Read the California Stem Cell Report regularly for the latest and most in-depth coverage of the effort to save the California stem cell agency from financial extinction. 


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