The Tax Watchers: How would you spend other people’s money? – Fairfield Daily Republic

Gay Eckman, The Tax Watchers

We are being asked in November to approve Proposition 14 an issue of $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds for California Stem Cell Research, Treatments and Cures.

Californians approved Proposition 71 for $3 billion in bonds in 2004 and the creation of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The institutes appointed board members are charged with reviewing stem cell research and therapy proposals and selecting who will receive grants and for how much. This board also has the responsibility to oversee those grants. Operation of the institute itself technically has no oversight at all.

Proposition 14 is essentially a continuation of Proposition 71, which is out of money.

Robert Klein II, a staunch advocate for stem cell research whose personal fortune came from real estate, was the principal author of Proposition 71, and even though he now serves only in an advisory capacity to the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, has once again authored Proposition 14 of 2020. Simply speaking Proposition 14 of 2020 is a continuation and mark-up of what the voters approved in 2004.

Klein, like many others back in 2004, believed embryonic stem cells might provide a miracle cure for almost everything. The federal government however had placed severe restrictions on the lines of embryonic stem cells available for research. But as a shrewd businessman, he could avoid these restrictions with a California project and could use the California initiative process to leverage millions of his own into billions of public dollars in support of this cause.

Klein claimed the advances made through his initiative would be self-supporting by stipulating a portion of receipts earned from the cures would be returned to the states general fund in 15 years and for about $5 billion of Californians money (including interest to bond holders), the general fund has received $352,560. Not a single federally approved therapy has resulted from stem cell science from the institute under Proposition 71.

Federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research pertinent to drafting of Proposition 71 in 2004 were totally eliminated in 2009. Harnessing the hoped-for potential of stem cells remains elusive, and according to the Food and Drug Administration, these therapies do include risks. Stem cell research will not end . . . the National Institutes of Health and myriad charities aligned with specific diseases or conditions will continue with stem cell research. Their knowledge is more focused and better suited to solve these problems and utilizes the best medical science worldwide, including California scientists.

If Proposition 14 passes, California voters are risking $5.5 billion plus bond interest that could have been used for immediate needs such as education, housing and medical care. General obligation commitments take precedence over other funds we would like to spend or possibly even take away from what we planned to spend.

Do not be fooled again. Vote no on Proposition 14.

Gary Eckman is a member of the Central Solano Citizens/Taxpayer Group.

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The Tax Watchers: How would you spend other people’s money? – Fairfield Daily Republic