California Chamber of Commerce lends support to stem cell research

The California Chamber of Commerce has joined with a broad and growing coalition of business groups, patient advocates and medical organizations in endorsing a "YES" vote on Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, on the November 2004 statewide ballot.

"Proposition 71 provides a great opportunity to improve California's economy by creating thousands of new jobs, reducing health care costs and generating new revenues for our state," said Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce.

Prop 71 will support stem cell research at California hospitals, medical schools and universities, to develop life-saving therapies and cures for diseases that could save the lives of millions of California children and adults. Scientists believe that stem cell research holds the promise to treat a multitude of diseases that include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, ALS and spinal chord injuries. These diseases affect 128 million Americans, including a child or adult in nearly half of all California families.

The California Chamber of Commerce, which voted September 10th on a number of statewide ballot measures, is the newest member in an expansive coalition of business organizations and leaders supporting Prop 71, including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Valley Industry and Commerce Association, Orange County Business Council, Los Angeles Business Council, California Healthcare Institute, United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley, Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Latin Business Association.

Last week, George Shultz, former Secretary of State and economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan, announced his support of Prop 71. In addition, the state's top fiscal officers, State Controller Steve Westly and State Treasurer Phil Angelides, have also endorsed the measure, praising its fiscal soundness and potential to boost California's economy.

"California's economy is on the road to recovery," added Zaremberg. "This investment will provide significant benefits and should be made now."

Prop 71 authorizes tax-free state bonds that will provide an average of $295 million per year over ten years to support stem cell research at California's universities, medical schools and research facilities. During the first five years, the bonds will be self-financing, with no cost to the state's general fund during this period of economic recovery.

The measure has the potential to help reduce California's skyrocketing health care spending costs, which now total more than $110 billion per year. If the research funded by Prop 71 leads to new cures that reduce our health care costs by only one percent, Prop 71 would pay for itself.

In addition to its potential to save lives and reduce health care costs, Prop. 71 invests in California's local economies and would provide a much-needed economic boost throughout the state. Under the initiative, California will benefit from tax revenues generated by new construction and research jobs, as well as patents and royalties that result from the research.

Prop 71 will also ensure California remains an unparalleled research location. The state is home to many of the nation's top medical and research institutions, including but not limited to University of California at San Francisco, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Irvine, University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at San Diego, Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, Scripps Research Institute, City of Hope, Childrens Hospital of California, Cedars-Sinai, Caltech and the Burnham Institute. Along with the state's forward-thinking entrepreneurial base, this existing infrastructure gives California the natural capacity to lead the world in the cutting-edge field of stem cell research.

The California Chamber of Commerce joins a broad and diverse coalition of grassroots supporters including Nobel Prize-winning scientists and medical experts, state and local elected officials, faith-based organizations, families involved in patient advocacy and efforts to cure diseases, and organizations like the Alzheimer's Association California Council, California Medical Association, American Nurses Association of California, American Diabetes Association, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, ALS Therapy Development Foundation, Parkinson's Action Network, California Congress of Seniors, Gray Panthers and the National Coalition for Cancer Research. A complete list of endorsing organizations can be found on the campaign's website,

Proposition 71 was developed by a coalition of California families and medical experts determined to close the stem cell research funding gap. Currently, our state has no effective mechanism to fund stem cell research and political roadblocks have severely limited federal funding for some of the most promising types of stem cell research.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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