Pay Hikes for Stem Cell Agency Leaders Draw Heat
Future officials at California's fledgling stem cell research agency got a hefty raise this week.
The board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine approved a top salary of $508,750 for the president and chair of the board. It also approved raises for second-tier executives and the board's vice chair, who can earn as much as $332,000 a year. The agency's top two attorneys will make up to $277,500.
The 23% increases, considerably smaller than staff recommendations, drew criticism not so much for the dollar amounts, but for timing.
"I just don't think it was the right time to do this," John Simpson, stem cell project director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, told the Sacramento Bee. "It's tone-deaf."
The stem cell institute, financed by a $3 billion voter-approved initiative, gets its money through the sale of bonds and is not directly affected by California's budget crisis.
Nonetheless, the move could build support for a measure recently introduced in the Legislature that would charge the Little Hoover Commission with investigating how CIRM's governing body could be altered to eliminate conflicts of interest.
That's just one of several bills dealing with CIRM that lawmakers in Sacramento have before them, in addition to a number of other health care-related measures. Highlights of recent actions are provided below.