San Diego Union-Tribune Examines Measure To Fund Stem Cell Research
The San Diego Union-Tribune on Friday examined Proposition 71, a bond measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to fund stem cell research (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/8). The measure would issue state 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 would cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 10/4).
Proponents of the measure say it could save the state government between $3.4 billion and $6.9 billion in health care costs by providing new treatments for people with one of six conditions some scientists say could benefit from stem cell therapies.
However, critics said there is no guarantee that health costs will go down because stem cell research has not produced a cure to date and might not in the future, according to the Union-Tribune.
Although likely votes for and against the measure were "split nearly evenly" in August, according to a poll, a more recent survey showed Proposition 71 "gaining more public support," the Union-Tribune reports. Proponents of the measure have donated more than $15 million to campaigns in support of it, and opponents have raised less than $150,000 to campaign against it (San Diego Union Tribune, 10/8).
Summaries of a recent editorial and opinion piece addressing Proposition 71 appear below.
Long Beach Press-Telegram: The editorial recommends that state residents vote "yes" on the measure because stem cell research is a "noble undertakin[g]," its passage would place California "back in its rightful place at the center of global cutting-edge medical research"; it has the "likely potential to pay huge dividends in high-tech job creation, new revenues for the state, reduced medical expenses; and most importantly, to ease human suffering." Although the state "remains in fiscal crisis" and the measure is an "admittedly unorthodox way to fund medical research," the editorial concludes that Proposition 71 would put California "in a position to succeed where the federal government has failed" (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 10/5).
- Scott Herhold, San Jose Mercury News: Although stem cell research is a "worthy pursuit," Proposition 71 is the "wrong tool" because the benefits, but not the cost, would be "shared widely," columnist Herhold writes in a Mercury News opinion piece. The proposal "simply dwarfs" all prior state spending on medical research, would negatively impact the budget at a time of "perilous state finances" and has the potential to "create a bureaucracy with its own rules," Herhold concludes (Herhold, San Jose Mercury News, 10/7).
KCET's "Life & Times" on Thursday included a report on Proposition 71 (Smith, "Life & Times," KCET, 10/7). The complete transcript and audio of the segment in RealPlayer will be available online after the broadcast. In addition, KQED's "Forum" on Thursday in the first hour of the program included a discussion of Proposition 71. Guests on the program included Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, who opposes the initiative, and Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), who supports the initiative (Krasny, "Forum," KQED, 10/7). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Additional information on Proposition 71 is available online.