California Residents Approve Measure To Fund Stem Cell Research
California residents on Tuesday voted to approve Proposition 71, a bond initiative on the statewide ballot that will fund stem cell research, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 11/3). With 99.8% of precincts reporting, about 59.1% of residents voted in favor of the measure and 40.9% opposed it (Secretary of State Web site).
Under Proposition 71, the state will issue bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote stem cell research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure will cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 11/2).
The state now will set up a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to administer grants and loans, as well as to regulate research. State officials, with "heavy input from the University of California," will appoint a 29-member oversight committee, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 11/3).
Proposition 71 has "riveted" national attention and will "swell the financial obligations of what is already the most indebted state in America," according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 11/3).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) endorsed the measure (Schodolski, Chicago Tribune, 11/3). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, proponents of the measure spent more than $27 million on their campaign (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/3). The campaign opposing the measure "limped far behind financially," the Contra Costa Times reports.
Marcy Darnovsky -- associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, which will monitor the administration of grants approved by the measure -- said, "I think this was one of the most (financially) lopsided campaigns in California" (Myers, Contra Costa Times, 11/3).
Proposition 71 supporters said the measure was needed because the Bush administration has limited funding for stem cell research to about $25 million annually, the AP/Austin American-Statesman reports (Crary, AP/Austin American-Statesman, 11/3).
Bob Klein, chair of the Proposition 71 Committee and a Fresno real estate developer, said, "All of us could have lived a hundred lifetimes and not had the opportunity to change the future of human suffering as the people of California have tonight" (Los Angeles Times, 11/3).
Fiona Hutton, spokesperson for the "Yes on 71" campaign, said, "It's a beacon of hope for millions of Americans who are still suffering from some of the most debilitating diseases," adding, "Tonight's vote was a monumental victory for them."
Opponents of the measure said they "will be watching to make sure research funded by the initiative benefits the public," the Bee reports. Proposition 71 opponents also said they will monitor grants administered by the institute.
California Nurses Association President Deborah Burger, said, "It will be our job as nurses and as the alliance for responsible research to really monitor and make sure the public money has been well spent" (Sacramento Bee, 11/3).
According to a Sacramento Bee editorial, state residents' approval of Proposition 71 "suggests a couple" of lessons from the Nov. 2 statewide election. "The first lesson is that if the Republican Party wants to build permanent political strength, it needs to move to the center," the editorial states, adding, the "second is that governing by proposition remains a dubious way to run a state."
California residents' "have made clear that they want California to lead on" stem cell research, the editorial states, concluding, "Now it's up to the state's elected officials to make sure that this $3 billion bet isn't squandered before it has a chance to pay off" (Sacramento Bee, 11/3).
Additional information on Proposition 71 is available online.