New Jersey Governor Makes Stem Cell Research Funding Plan Official

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Governor Makes Stem Cell Research Funding Plan Official Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 12, 2005

Trenton, NJ ( — New Jersey’s acting governor made his plan to spend millions to fund embryonic stem cell research official in his State of the State address on Tuesday. The move will be opposed by pro-life groups and lawmakers concerned the proposal will cost too much at a time when the state has other fiscal obligations.

Gov. Richard Codey said he wants the state to spend $380 million on embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of human life to obtain stem cells.

Cody’s plan calls for using $200 million in untapped bond money to pay for part of the package

The funds will benefit the 8-month-old Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, the first-in-the-nation facility founded by embattled former Governor Jim McGreevey. The state has allocated $9.5 million to the institute so far and research universities plan to contribute an additional $2 million.

Codey says that’s not enough to compete with California, where voters approved a measure spending $6 billion in taxpayer dollars on the unproven research.

And in Illinois, officials there are hoping to spend $1 billion on the research and Wisconsin’s governor is seeking $750 million for scientists.

Codey used the death of former Superman actor Christopher Reeve to trumpet his proposal.

According to a report in the Courier Post newspaper, Codey drew a standing ovation when he acknowledged Barbara Johnson, Reeves mother.

"His efforts will never be forgotten," Codey said, referring to the actors lobbying in favor of federal funding for the controversial research. "Thank you for being here, and thank you for sharing him with us."

Codey’s proposal will draw opposition from pro-life groups who oppose destroying unborn children for stem cells. They say adult stem cell research is a more ethical and effective alternative.

"Embryonic stem cell research has not yielded one cure," said Marie Tasy, director of Right to Life.

New Jersey faces a $4 billion deficit and that will be on the minds of many lawmakers when addressing the research funding request.

"How can we pay for new programs if we can’t even pay for the ones we have?" asked state Sen. Diane Allen, a Republican from Edgewater Park.

That hasn’t stopped Assemblyman Neil Cohen, a Democrat, from taking Codey’s plan up a notch. He proposes borrowing $1 billion over 10 years through a state bond initiative voters would approve on the 2005 ballot.

In December, Codey said he is hoping to persuade nearby states to join in a three-state coalition promoting embryonic stem cell research. He proposed a joint embryonic stem cell initiative involving his home state, along with Pennsylvania and Delaware.