Stem cell agency officially files $5.5 billion ballot measure

Stem cells for treating cancer in microtubes. (Image: Science Photo, via Shutterstock)

Backers of the financially stressed California stem cell agency have filed their proposed ballot measure to refinance the agency with $5.5 billion if voters approve it in November 2020.

The complex, 30-page initiative, filed Thursday, would also restructure a number of aspects of the agency and provide for financial assistance for patients and their families who might be involved in clinical trials. The proposal was submitted by Robert Klein, the Palo Alto real estate investment banker who led the ballot campaign that created the agency in 2004.

Klein was also the first chairman of the agency, known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).  He is chairman of the stem cell advocacy group, Americans for Cures.

The $3 billion agency expects to run out of cash for new awards at the end of this month.

In addition to stem cell research, the proposed initiative would provide for awards for other “vital research” opportunities.

Training for professionals would emphasized. The governing board of the agency would be increased from 29 to 35 persons. Representatives of the California state university system would have a greater official role in addition to representatives from the University of California.

Additional changes are proposed in priorities along with alteration in conflict of interest rules and its public records provisions.

The measure, “Initiative No. 19-0022,” will need 633,212 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The first step in the months long process is review of the measure by the attorney general’s office, which will prepare the official summary.

The public can file comments on the proposal at this page on the web site of the attorney general.

Editor’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 thousands of items on California stem cell matters.

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