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Californians voted in 2004 to shell out billions of dollars in taxpayer money to fund cutting-edge stem cell treatments.

Proposition 71 could lead to cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s and other devastating diseases, voters were told. Actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease, said in one campaign ad that the measure “could save the life of someone you love.”

But 15 years later, there are no readily available cures. And the state’s stem cell agency, which administered the bond money, is about to run out of funding.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) announced in July that it had stopped taking applications for new research projects, and it will award its final grants for new projects by September, an agency spokesperson later said.

But supporters already plan to go back to voters in November 2020 to ask for even more money than last time: $5.5 billion, plus interest. The previous $3 billion bond measure cost taxpayers about $6 billion, with interest.

“It’s a lot of money, even for the state of California,” said Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of... see more