CA voters approved Prop 71 (2004) which 1) guaranteed a state constitutional right to conduct stem cell research, 2) created the CIRM, and 3) provided $3.00 billion for such research. The US federal government at that time was intensely debating whether to provide funding or outright ban stem cell research (thank you anti-abortion groups and the Catholic church). In July 2019, CIRM stopped accepting applications for new projects because of depleted funds. In Oct 2019, CIRM disclosed it had $132 million left in funds. The vast majority of the funds went to research groups in the UC, Stanford, USC, and the Salk Institute (affiliated with UCSD), and hospitals. Smaller portions went to the CSU and private companies.
Specifics & Figures
Bonds: Raise $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
Funds: CIRM can spend no more than 7.5% of funds on operation costs. Funds would be spent as grants to conduct research, trials, and programs related to stem cells, and also start-up costs for facilities. Establishes training programs for undergraduate students, fellowships for graduate students.
Governance: Increases the number of members on the Independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee (ICOC), the committee that governs CIRM) from 29 to 35 members, creates a fourth working group that focuses on increasing access to developed therapies.
Estimated to cost the state $260 million per year over the next 30 years to repay the bonds. Maintains or slightly increases the number of stem cell research fellowships available to graduate students. Increases research funding opportunities for the UC and its faculty and students.
Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments, and Cures.
Prop 71 (2004) has enabled greater understanding of stem cells and how to derive beneficial therapies from the research. However, additional funding is needed in order to bring broad spectrum solutions to the market. Prop 71 and Prop 14 funding will bring new treatments and increased quality of life for Californians (among others) who live with chronic illnesses and injuries.
Prop 14 does not address the oversight and conflict of interest issues that CIRM has had since it’s creation. The funding climate for stem cell research is no longer hostile, as it was in 2004, thus mooting the need for CA to maintain its own stem cell research funding system. Funding stem cell research since 2004 has not produced as much progress or as many actual therapies as was promised in 2004. In addition, asking voters to green light a multi-billion dollar package during economic hard times is insulting, particularly when there are calls in the legislature to make drastic cuts to programs that benefit all Californians already.
Endorsements In Support
Democratic Party, UC Regents, patient advocate organizations, science people in CA [website]
Endorsements Not in Favor
There is no official group leading the opposition. However, several CA newspaper editorials have come out against Prop 14 because of fiscal reasons.