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California’s stem cell program, created by voters in 2004, has made great strides in advancing what’s known as regenerative medicine and placing California at the center of the developing science.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM, which was established by Proposition 71, has spent its original endowment of $3 billion in state bond proceeds to build state-of-the-art laboratories and attract some of the field’s preeminent scientists. Its grants have brought scores of promising treatments for severe chronic diseases to the point of clinical trials.

Having effectively come to the end of its original state funding, CIRM is about to ask for more. An initiative aimed for the November 2020 ballot would renew the program with a new bond issue of $5.5 billion. The measure could have represented an opportunity not merely to extend the program for another 10 years, but to correct shortcomings created by Proposition 71, some of which persist to this day.

But as drafted by real estate developer Robert Klein II, the author of Proposition 71, the new proposal perpetuates many of the... see more