Former Secretary of State Shultz Announces Support for Measure To Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz on Tuesday endorsed Proposition 71, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would issue state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over 10 years to promote human embryonic stem cell research, the Sacramento Bee reports (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 9/8). The measure would 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 have said that with interest, the measure would cost a total of $6 billion (California Healthline, 8/25).
Shultz is the "most prominent" Republican to endorse the measure, the Los Angeles Times reports (Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 9/8). Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and former first lady Nancy Reagan both have said that they support more funding for embryonic stem cell research. Neither has taken a position on Proposition 71 (Elias, AP/Contra Costa Times, 9/8).
Shultz, a global and economic policy fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, said, "Beyond its potential to generate lifesaving cures, ... Prop. 71 includes key fiscal and governance provisions that will protect California's budget and ensure that the funds are administered in a careful and responsible way."
According to the Times, Schultz's endorsement "could be particularly useful" for Proposition 71 supporters because opponents of the measure have focused on its cost (Los Angeles Times, 9/8).
Wayne Johnson, a lobbyist helping to coordinate opposition to Proposition 71, said that Shultz's comments on the initiative's fiscal structure were "absolutely and categorically incorrect," adding, "The text of the initiative specifically gives (research backers) the right to spend the money however they please -- there really are no controls beyond the requirement that they issue reports on the spending" (Los Angeles Times, 9/8). Johnson said, "Endorsements only matter if people aren't interested in the issue (on the ballot)," adding, "They are interested in this one" (Sacramento Bee, 9/8).
Embryonic stem cell research would allow scientists to make "enormous strides" in developing treatments for diseases such as type 1 diabetes, and Proposition 71 would allow the state to "take the lead in funding a field of medical research that holds as much promise as any scientific development in the last 30 years," Peter Van Etten, president and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece.
According to Van Etten, a "vast and broad coalition" supports stem cell research, and the initiative is a "compassionate and wise use of our resources." He adds that the state would recoup some of the costs of the measure through royalties "from the research that will generate thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in new state revenues" (Van Etten, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/29).
The ballot title and summary for Proposition 71 is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the summary.