LOS ANGELES — This Election Day, California voters are being asked to replenish funding for the state’s ambitious stem cell research program, with a well-financed campaign that’s making heady promises about curing diabetes, paralysis, cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Backers of Proposition 14 also cast it as a job-creation measure, arguing the money it raises will boost the state economy by cementing the Golden State’s place as a leading incubator of successful biotech startups. But opponents say that amid the Covid-19 pandemic and wildfires, California has far more pressing needs.
In 2004, Californians approved a $3 billion ballot measure, Proposition 71, to create a new state agency to fund stem cell research at a time when President George W. Bush had banned federal funding for some of this work — if scientists used newly created embryonic stem cell lines. Now, even though the National Institutes of Health funds stem cell research to the tune of $2 billion a year, California residents are being asked to authorize the sale of $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds to pay for stem... see more