Plans to ask California voters in 2018 to approve a $5 billion bond issue to finance the California stem cell agency have been shelved, a director of the agency said Thursday.
Jeff Sheehy, a San Francisco county supervisor, said that the key backer of the proposal had informed him that no bond measure would be offered to voters before 2020, presumably at the presidential general election.
Sheehy said that Bob Klein, who led the 2004 ballot campaign that created the agency, had told him by telephone that a 2018 bond measure was now off the table.
Sheehy did not go into reasons for the delaying the bond measure. However, conventional political wisdom holds that bond measures have a better chance of approval during a general election that attracts a larger voter turnout.
J.T. Thomas, chairman of the agency’s board, said he was forming a transition committee to make plans for various alternatives, including shutting down the agency in 2020. The California Institute for Regenerative (CIRM), as the agency is formally known, currently estimates that it will run out of cash for new awards in just three years.
Other alternatives to be examined include funding from a new bond measure and some sort of private-public partnership.
Ed’s Note: David Jensen is a retired newsman who has followed the affairs of the $3 billion California stem cell agency since 2005 via his blog, the California Stem Cell Report, where this story first appeared. He has published more than 4,000 items on California stem cell matters in the past 11 years.