California Officials Finalize 150M Loan to Stem Cell Research Agency

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 21, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Officials Finalize 150M Loan to Stem Cell Research Agency Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 21
, 2006

Sacramento, CA ( — State officials have finally put the finishing touches on a $150 million loan Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promised back in July. The money had been delayed because of bureaucratic red tape and election-year busyness.

The governor made the announcement the day after President Bush vetoed a federal measure that would have forced taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research, which has yet to help a single patient.

Members of CIRM praised Schwarzenegger and were told to expect the money by the end of August.

On Monday, the stem cell finance committee headed by Treasurer Phil Angelides unanimously approved the loan.

"Today’s action keeps California on the forefront as a national leader in stem cell research," Schwarzenegger said in a statement afterwards.

Now that the agency will have the funds, it can continue its work while two lawsuits from pro-life and taxpayer groups continue in courts.

The lawsuits say the state proposition that created the firm was unconstitutional and that the agency has violated state open meetings and conflict of interest laws. They also say the state is required by law to have more oversight on the committee.

The committee couldn’t begin heavily funding projects because it can’t issue bonds to raise the money for grants because they could become worthless if CIRM loses in court.

California Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw in April ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show the proposition is "clearly, positively and unmistakably unconstitutional," but her ruling has been appealed.

Earlier this month, CIRM unveiled the plan for funding stem cell research over the next 10 years.

The plan only suggests that the research will enter into clinical trials and other research will remain in progress. In essence, the panel indicated no new medical therapies will result from the embryonic stem cell research it plans to fund with the huge sum of tax money.

Dale Carlson, spokesperson for the panel, defended the lack of results in the plan saying "this field is really in its infancy."

Others say the plan shows no cures for diseases because it focuses too heavily on embryonic stem cell research while the use of adult stem cells has already produced dozens of treatments and possible cures.

The plan hasn’t been finalized and must still be approved by the institute’s 29-member governing board, which is expected in December.

Voters approved Proposition 71 in 2004 that authorized $3 billion in grants for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Including interest, taxpayers will ultimately be forced to pay $6 billion.