While California officials are working on building the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine authorized by the passage of Proposition 71, politicians in other states are considering, reconsidering and pushing for their own public funding. Here is a small sample of current activity around the US:
State funding for embryonic stem cell research could reach $10 million to $20 million, if Gov. M. Jodi Rell has her way. Rell wants to use state money to create a fund to help spur research institutions to finance studies in Connecticut. The governor wants to target biomedical research companies, universities and pharmaceutical firms. The fund would be "seed money" to match these interested parties.
State Comptroller Dan Hynes proposes a $1 billion bond issue over 10 years to fund the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute, which would distribute loans and grants to universities and medical research facilities in Illinois. The funds would pay for research involving embryonic, adult and cord blood stem cells. The effort is modeled on one in California, where $3 billion in public funding for stem-cell research will be set aside.
To pay for the bonds, Hynes has proposed a tax on elective cosmetic surgery, such as "tummy tucks," face-lifts and botox injections. A 6 percent tax would generate $15 million the first year if voters approve the plan in a statewide referendum in November 2006.
Under a plan proposed by state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, Minnesotans' tax dollars could soon be used to pay for stem cell research at the University. Kahn said she plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would allow state money to pay for the University's stem cell research, including work on embryonic stem cells. The bill, co-authored by Kahn and several other Democratic representatives, is largely similar to the one she introduced last year.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says Texas needs to pursue stem-cell research, and state leaders should work with Governor Rick Perry and the Legislature to develop a policy on stem-cell research. Hutchinson says it's necessary to keep the state from being -- quote -- "left in the dust by California.", referring to a landmark three billion dollar initiative to fund stem-cell research passed by California voters in November.
Leaving aside my opinions regarding the ultimately destructive nature of public funding (and the taxes and wasteful processes it requires), I would just like to point out that competition is a marvelous thing. Competition is the alchemy though which the basest of human motives are converted into shining towers of accomplishment.