Take a scalpel to $345 million in California’s stem-cell research waste
Just as good scientists are drawn to conclusions by solid data, the decision whether to spend another $345 million by California’s state-run stem-cell research project should be based on an objective analysis as to whether it would be cost-effective. A rigorous cost-benefit analysis is not only fiscally prudent, it avoids being drawn into the moral dilemmas posed by stem-cell research, especially with respect to cells from human embryos.
Created in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was authorized to spend $3 billion in bond proceeds. But as is typical with most bonds, the interest payments would double the cost to $6 billion. CIRM has made $2.4 billion in grants and used $255 million for administration and prepaid interest — leaving $345 million remaining to disburse.
Should CIRM distribute the remaining $345 million (which, with interest, would amount to $690 million in repayment costs)? Should this remaining pool of funds be doled out?
According to the ballot pamphlet mailed to voters, proponents promised the bond proceeds would advance the “cure and treatment” of “cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, blindness, Lou Gehrig’s disease, HIV/AIDS, mental health disorders, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, and more than 70 other diseases and injuries.”
But actual outcomes for these promised advances are speculative at best and nonexistent at worst.
Similar benefits were promised to the California economy to “generate millions of new tax dollars.”
In a Prop. 71 ad, actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s, urged, “Vote yes on 71, and save the life of someone you love.” Initiative backers also promised royalties to the state could be as much as $1.1 billion, thus providing a source of funds to pay off the bonds.
This past August, almost 13 years after Prop. 71 passed, CIRM announced it would cough up its first […]