Where Do New Jersey Democrats Stand On Stem Cell Research?
You’d never know that this year the federal government is spending roughly $200 million for somatic (adult and umbilical cord) stem cell research and $38 million for embryonic stem cell research. Some might be shocked to learn that American businesses privately fund and conduct stem cell research. Tom Kean, Jr. recently visited a stem cell research facility right here in New Jersey that's owned by the Celgene Corporation.
Listening to all the hyperventilating by New Jersey politicians you’d think stem cell research was a top priority for Democrats. Reality tells a different story.
Back in January 2005, Governor Dick Codey announced the state of New Jersey would undertake two stem cell research initiatives - a $150 million dollar investment for the construction of the New Jersey Stem Cell Institute and a $230 million dollar investment for actual research.
What happened? Democrats allocated $370 million in the budget for what are called "Christmas tree" grants, money for projects that strictly benefit a legislator’s home district. The state’s 2005-2006 budget contained only $5.5 million for stem cell research. Turns out stem cell research really wasn’t a priority for Democrats.
Next, Jon Corzine made state funding for stem cell research a major issue in his campaign for governor and Democrats in Trenton again took up the matter in the spring of 2006. This time Democrats proposed building not just one, but three new stem cell research centers - one for a $150 million in New Brunswick, one for $50 million in Camden and another for $50 million in Newark. The bond referendum for actual research was to be increased from $230 million to $350 million.
So what happened? First, state Senate President Dick Codey put the kibosh on asking voters to approve a bond referendum of $325 million. Codey made his announcement at a state owned stem research center at Rutgers University in Piscataway. Yes, the state of New Jersey already owns stem cell research facilities.
During a news conference at a stem cell research center in Piscataway, Codey said it would be too hard to sell the proposed $325 million borrowing package to voters while the state is in such bad fiscal shape.Then came the passage of the $31.9 billion New Jersey state budget for 2006-2007. What happened to the money for building one, two or three new stem cell reach facilities? Once again, more than $300 million in new spending was inserted by Democrats at the last minute for pork barrel projects and zero funds were allocated for building new stem cell research facilities. The new budget contains exactly $5.5 million for actual stem cell research, the same as last year. Stem cell research apparently wasn’t much of a priority for Governor Corzine either.
Now comes an article on Politics NJ.com written by Bill Albers entitled Menendez accuses Kean of Stem Cell flip-flop. Tom Kean Jr. supports increased federal funding for stem cell research, but opposed adding new spending for that purpose to New Jersey’s budget. At the end of the day, Kean must have been with the Democrat majority on this issue, because as we know Corzine received exactly what he asked for in the budget – a zero dollar increase for stem cell research. Menendez called Corzine’s budget the "most honest, fiscally responsible budget in years. So Menendez apparently agreed with Corzine’s decision not to increase state spending on stem cell research.
So, exactly which politicians and which party has been doing the flip-flopping on New Jersey state funding for stem cell research? Democrats talk about stem cell research a great deal, they enjoy making it a campaign issue, but when it comes to actually doing something about it – just about everything under the sun is a more important for them to fund than stem cell research.
And will someone please tell Bill Albers this sentence in his article is completely false.
Federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells has been disallowed by the Bush administration since 2001.It was the Clinton Administration that did a lot of talking about funding embryonic stem cell research, but never got around to actually spending any money on it. (Sound familiar?) It was the Bush administration that actually funded embryonic stem cell research in 2001, for the first time in our nation’s history. Tom Kean Jr. would like the fefederal government to spend more.