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Politics

Prop. 14, Which Authorizes Bonds To Continue Stem Cell Research, Heads Towards Passing

In this March 16, 2012, file photo, researcher Terry Storm works in a stem cell research lab at the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif.
Paul Sakuma / AP
In this March 16, 2012, file photo, researcher Terry Storm works in a stem cell research lab at the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif.
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UPDATE: 9:28 p.m., Nov.3, 2020:

Proposition 14, which asks California voters to issue $5.5 billion in bonds to continue financing the state’s stem cell research institute, appears to be narrowly passing.

Read original story below:

Proposition 14 asks California voters to issue $5.5 billion in bonds to continue financing the state’s stem cell research institute.

Supporters want the money to continue the science, but critics say the science didn’t do enough the first time.

Opponents say that there has only been a handful of benefits from the decade-long experiment, and the state isn’t making money back from it.

In 2004, under the Bush Administration, California voters decided to issue $3 billion in bonds so the state could create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM. This was at a time when the federal government closed off funding for stem cell research for religious reasons.

Now that money for CIRM has dried up, and supporters such as UC San Diego Health neuroscientist Larry Goldstein say voters should agree to provide more money.

“So Prop 14 at $500 million a year against a multi-billion dollar disease problem when we're successful — that is a very highly leveraged and successful investment,” Goldstein said.

CIRM has funded more than 64 trials directly and aided in 31 more, San Francisco-based public radio station KQED reported. The FDA has also approved two drugs for rare blood cancers that were developed through CIRM grants.

Jeff Sheehy, who has been on the governing board of CIRM since its start, said he’s proud of the research infrastructure CIRM has developed and the work that has been done, but more funding is unnecessary.

The proposal, he said, means more state debt, when the federal government is now spending billions on stem cell research.

“One, we did our job and we don't need to add ... more a year in debt. No. 2, the research is already well funded by the federal government to the tune of $2.1 billion per year,” Sheehy said.

Opponents say a no vote means the government wouldn’t tack on state debt to finance CIRM. Supporters say a yes vote means the state allocates more funding for life-saving research.