by Steven Ertelt
February 19, 2008
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — The California agency created by Proposition 71 that is funding embryonic stem cell research and human cloning is substantially increasing the salaries of key staff. The move comes in the face of a state budget crisis and at a time when scientists are making progress with embryonic alternatives that could benefit from more money.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is proposing raising salary ranges for top employees by 50 percent.
The stem cell agency’s Governance Committee will consider the idea on Wednesday.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) says the pay increases are unjustified and pointed to the agency’s general counsel, Tamar Pachter, who received a pay hike in December after just 10 months on the job.
With the increase Pachter now makes $225,000, more than state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s annual salary of $184,301.
"They are demonstrating a particularly tone-deaf action at a time when the state faces a serious budget crisis," FTCR spokesman John Simpson told LifeNews.com. "These salaries and proposed ranges are simply too high for an agency that when fully staffed will have a total of 50 employees."
While Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar makes just over $200,000, the agency’s president could make as much as $618,000.
"CIRM doesn’t operate with some financier’s private stash of cash," said Simpson. "CIRM is a state agency funded by taxpayer dollars. It needs to act like one."
Proposition 71, passed by 59 percent of Californians in 2004, created the stem cell institute that will sell $3 billion in bonds over a decade to fund stem cell projects. Most of the funding to date has gone to embryonic stem cell research.