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Passage of Proposition 71, the $3 billion California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, was a sure thing: Offered up to voters in a solidly Blue state and backed by the best, most heart-felt advertising that Hollywood money can buy. But spending all that money effectively and transparently, and meeting the campaign's promises and timetables, will be more challenging.

By passing Prop. 71, California voters have launched a unique experiment in large-scale state funding of biomedical research. The scale of the endeavor is intended to do nothing less than sculpt the shape of healthcare worldwide and to cement the preeminence of California's biotech sector.

The project's bold goals, and the state's eagerness to promote scientific techniques that President Bush has largely placed off limits to federally funded researchers, have attracted favorable attention from patient and medical groups, Nobel laureates, biotech companies and trade associations, and investors - all of whom can be expected to want a piece of the action.

Indeed, apart from the fact that the initiative will add $6 billion of debt to a state that is already...