Public libraries, special education programs, law enforcement agencies, parks, services for the elderly — all have been wounded by the aggressive assault of California’s ruthless budget-slashing sword this recession.

But nary a paper cut has injured the budget of the state-funded California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

In fact, last month, the 5-year-old agency’s largest operating budget ever was approved. Its out-of-state travel budget will more than double this year. Later this year, agency leaders hope to receive a legislative OK to expand the staff beyond the voter-mandated limit of 50 employees. The agency just hired a new vice president on a part-time basis: He will work about 24 hours a week for six months, and be paid $250,000.

The agency chairman said all of these expenditures are justified because the research the agency has funded is well on its way to saving lives. In fact, he said once the current unbroken flow of cash begins to slow, the agency will be able to make a strong case to voters that they should fund even more research.

The San Francisco-based CIRM...