Both Houses Approve $450 Million Bond Referendum, Measure Headed to Ballot
TRENTON – Both houses of the legislature today approved a measure to invest nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in long-term funding for stem cell research, a move hailed by advocates as an investment in hope. The $450 million initiative, sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey and Senator Barbara Buono, caps off a critical investment drive by the State of New Jersey, which in December approved a $270 million initiative to fund a world-class stem cell institute and several other biomedical research facilities.
“New Jersey will now be a part of the front line in the search for cures to some of our most obstinate afflictions,” said Sen. Codey (D-Essex). “The potential yield on this investment – in terms of lives saved, hope restored, and economies revitalized – is unlimited. With the support of our residents in November, this public investment will be nearly unparalleled in the United States.”
“New Jersey is positioned to be a world leader in stem cell research,” said Sen. Buono (D-Middlesex). “With the voters’ approval, New Jersey will be a critical part in the efforts to cure Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and countless other degenerative diseases. We will give hope to millions of families.”
Bill S1091, which passed the Senate by a vote of 31 to 3, authorizes the state to seek voter approval this November on a $450 million bond referendum to fund stem cell research grants. The grants would be distributed over ten years. Eligible applicants would include for-profit and non-profit agencies with the requirement that for-profit groups collaborate and partner with non-profit organizations.
The bill approved today would provide eligible applicants with the long-term funding needed to support stem cell research projects that could potentially yield significant medical breakthroughs. The move was hailed by advocates who have been eagerly awaiting the advancement of this bill.
“Today’s vote was a vote in favor of the promise of cutting edge medical research. As one of the millions of people in the world that are disabled by disease or accidents, I have learned to go on with life while keeping faith and hope that one day we will find a cure. The answer to a cure for me and so many is stem cell research. I believe the voters of New Jersey will vote overwhelmingly in favor of pursuing the promise of this science,” said Carl Riccio, a long-time stem cell research advocate.
To ensure grants are awarded based on science, not politics, the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology would establish a research review panel and an ethics advisory panel to thoroughly review all applications and award grants. The ethics advisory panel will be responsible for ensuring state-funded research complies with state ethics guidelines, including the prohibition of human cloning. The referendum would also call for the state to receive a portion of the royalties realized from any break-through research.