Schwarzenegger Endorses Measure To Fund Stem Cell Research
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday endorsed Proposition 71, a bond measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to fund stem cell research, putting him "at odds with his party, statewide and nationally," the Los Angeles Times reports (Mathews/Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 10/19).
Proposition 71 would fund stem cell research by issuing state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote 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, 10/18).
Schwarzenegger made the announcement at a news conference on the Carmel coast after recent meetings with the measure's supporters and opponents. Schwarzenegger said he decided to back the measure because its authors "have done something smart -- which is that there are no payments due in the next five years" (Los Angeles Times, 10/19).
The governor said that California "daringly led the way for the high-tech industry, and now voters can help ensure we lead the way for the biotech" (Rogers/Krieger, Knight Ridder/Contra Costa Times, 10/19).
Schwarzenegger said, "I'm very much interested in stem cell research. I support it 100% ... I hope that it will win so eventually, 10 years from now, people will be saved from those terrible illnesses" (Gledhill/Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/19). The governor's father-in-law, former Democratic vice presidential candidate Sargent Shriver, has Alzheimer's disease. The measure's supporters say stem cell research could lead to treatments for Alzheimer's, as well as other conditions (Elias, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/19).
Schwarzenegger added, "I encourage Californians to join me in voting for Prop. 71" (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/19).
Karen Hanretty, spokesperson for the California Republican Party, said Proposition 71 would not achieve Schwarzenegger's goals and "is a gamble at the expense of the economic recovery of California."
Wayne Johnson, campaign consultant for Proposition 71's opposition, said he did not expect the governor to oppose the measure because he has publicly acknowledged his support for stem cell research. "He's very eclectic in his political philosophy," Johnson said, adding that Schwarzenegger's endorsement of Proposition 71 is not "out of character for him" (Smith/Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 10/19).
Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) said the governor's support "might be highly commendable, but it is wildly irresponsible" (Los Angeles Times, 10/19).
Fiona Hutton, Proposition 71 spokesperson, said the governor's support would bolster the campaign by communicating the potential economic benefits of the measure. "People seem to be well-versed on the potential for cures. Now we have the leading voice on the state's economy saying Proposition 71 is going to recharge the biotech sector and improve the state's economy," Hutton said (Sacramento Bee, 10/19).
The Weekly Standard in its Oct. 18 issue examined Proposition 71. According to the Weekly Standard, "now would seem to be exactly the wrong time for California" to approve the measure because it would create "a state constitutional right to conduct research into human cloning," uses "obfuscating language to mask it's true intent" and contains "few checks and balances." The Standard concludes that the measure is "an arrogant power grab that would fund and license morally controversial areas of biotechnological research with state-borrowed money" (Smith, Weekly Standard, 10/18).
Additional information on Proposition 71 is available online.