It’s always a big compliment when you’re invited to submit an editorial on a subject for a longtime newspaper of stature in the state. The San Diego Union-Tribune requested my thoughts on the possibility of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine’s (CIRM) plans to put another bond measure on the 2020 ballot to replenish its slush fund. It’s the first piece below.
CIRM recently announced intentions to encumber Californians with another $5.5 billion in debt, plus interest (see MOORLACH UPDATE — CIRM, Completing and Curriculum — August 15, 2019). Debt payments would be around $250 million to $350 million a year from the general fund.
I was one of the three individuals who signed the argument against Proposition 71, the ballot measure that established CIRM in 2004 with a $3 billion bond. This was the first statewide ballot measure I got involved with. I felt that it would be a boondoggle, as most of the serious stem cell patents had already been filed by the University of Wisconsin and this newly established entity would have no oversight. Regretfully, my worst fears were realized and the San Francisco Chronicle did an excellent job of critiquing this poster child for ballot measure abuse last year (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1004 and CIRM — September 10, 2018).
California has enough debt. The Golden State has the second-largest unrestricted net deficit and placed 42nd when compared on a per capita basis (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2018 State Per Capita UNPs — August 22, 2019 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Hart, Handy and OPEBs — August 29, 2019, where I announce the slight adjustment to Illinois’ unrestricted net deficit due to its finally releasing its CAFR).
For another study on the 50 states, reflecting that my per capita metric is fairly reliable, see Truth in Accounting’s just released report at https://www.truthinaccounting.org/news/detail/financial-state-of-the-states-2019. Using a different methodology from mine, they come to a similar ranking, placing California 43rd.
Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce
The Daily Pilot announces my upcoming October speaking engagement with the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce in the second piece below.
School District Ranking – Group 5 – #377 to #470
Releasing Group 5 brings us to the halfway point. It would be better if your school district were in the top half. Orange County has two more districts that make it to this category, #466 – Los Alamitos Unified and #468 – Cypress Elementary. For links to the first 4 groups, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Reducing Debt Transparency? — September 25, 2019. It’s the third piece below.
Commentary: Why stem-cell research funding proposal is a waste of taxpayer money
Promises not kept, conflicts abound
By JOHN M. W. MOORLACH
Like a spendthrift dependent, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is back and looking for more money. With its original Proposition 71 funds of $3 billion running out, beneficiaries of CIRM are looking to draw out another $5.5 billion in taxpayer-funded bonds for stem-cell research that after 15 years has produced close to no results.
In 2004, as Orange County’s treasurer-tax collector, I took a public stand against Proposition 71 as a waste of the taxpayers’ money. I believed then, as now, that it was an inurement subsidy on the backs of taxpayers. It was ballot measure abuse at its finest.
Also opposing Proposition 71 were taxpayer and good-government groups, as well as the California Nurses Association and the Green Party.
In 2019, we can look back at the record of the 2004 measure, which Hollywood actors sold to voters with unrealistic promises and pleas, and surmise the same results will be repeated but at a higher cost.
Why? First, the lack of promised outcomes. “The agency has since funded 55 clinical trials, but only one therapy … is likely to hit the market any time soon,” Nature reported in July.
In September 2018, the San Francisco Chronicle reviewed the agency’s nearly 1,000 grants, concluding there was no “predicted windfall.” Instead, most of the money went to “basic research, training programs and building new laboratories, not to clinical trials testing the kinds of potential cures and therapies the billions of dollars were supposed to deliver.”
Second is the lack of promised returns. The only royalty check for new discoveries was in March 2018 for $190,345.87.
Third is the excessive payouts to the measure’s promoters and beneficiaries due to no accountability of CIRM, expressly written into the measure, from either the Legislature or the governor’s office.
Former state Sen. Art Torres, although not a scientist, is vice-chair of the CIRM governing board, earning an annual paycheck of $225,000.
Financier Robert Klein, who initiated Proposition 71 and contributed $3 million to its campaign, was CIRM’s chairman from 2004 to 2011. In 2008, he was granted a “half-time” salary of $150,000 a year.
The Chronicle investigation found board members “abstained from voting on grants roughly 1,770 times since 2006 due to reported financial conflicts.”
Researcher Lloyd Billingsley reported that “91 percent of CIRM funding went to institutions with representatives on the CIRM board.”
Federal income tax law prohibits private inurement, i.e., receiving excessive benefits from a nonprofit.
Fourth is the massive amount of tax dollars invested in a “dry hole.” Not only was the $3 billion for the research a bust, but taxpayers will be paying interest on the principal until 2039. California Treasurer Fiona Ma’s office told me the cost of the interest on the $2.59 billion of principal already spent will be $836.6 million. Interest rates lower than anticipated in 2004 kept that below the original $3 billion estimate.
That’s money that could have gone for housing for the homeless, paying off pension liabilities or having more teachers in schools.
Fifth, the private sector is the proper venue for risk-takers trying to make a return on potential stem cell cures.
In 2020, it would be an added folly to pass $5.5 billion in new bonds, plus interest, to keep CIRM open. Yet that’s what Klein and others are considering putting on the ballot next year.
This time, expect more stories making emotional appeals. As I expressed in 2004, this measure is a self-serving stunt and a corporate subsidy on the backs of taxpayers.
If asked to sign a petition, I strongly urge Californians to refuse to back this initiative. Fool us once.
Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, represents the 37th District in the California Legislature.
Moorlach to speak in Corona del Mar
State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) will deliver a State of the State address at a Good Morning Corona del Mar meeting from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Oct. 10 at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, 1601 Bayside Drive.
The free public event, presented by the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce, will include complimentary refreshments and updates from representatives of local legislative offices.
|378||Borrego Springs Unified||4,172||($656)||473||95|
|380||Loomis Union Elementary||23,325||($661)||470||90|
|382||San Jose Unified||273,335||($662)||466||84|
|383||Central Union High||60,573||($663)||287||-96|
|384||Pope Valley Union Elementary||793||($665)||411||27|
|385||Whittier Union High||225,755||($665)||258||-127|
|386||Sequoia Union High||261,419||($666)||331||-55|
|388||Escondido Union High||177,581||($667)||360||-28|
|389||Forestville Union Elementary||6,834||($669)||455||66|
|390||Amador County Unified||38,626||($669)||414||24|
|391||Alta Loma Elementary||57,654||($670)||325||-66|
|392||Two Rock Union||1,745||($671)||486||94|
|393||Oak Valley Union Elementary||1,459||($674)||320||-73|
|397||South Bay Union||81,726||($684)||193||-204|
|400||Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified||54,453||($693)||422||22|
|401||Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High||57,689||($695)||457||56|
|404||Santa Barbara Unified||194,640||($700)||445||41|
|405||West Side Union Elementary||1,009||($700)||465||60|
|406||Ross Valley Elementary||24,272||($702)||434||28|
|408||Merced City Elementary||88,990||($709)||338||-70|
|410||Acalanes Union High||118,221||($712)||438||28|
|412||Westmorland Union Elementary||2,730||($713)||481||69|
|414||Loma Prieta Joint Union Elementary||3,954||($721)||757||343|
|415||Gold Trail Union Elementary||6,051||($723)||523||108|
|417||Santee School District||61,134||($727)||406||-11|
|419||Spreckels Union Elementary||6,706||($731)||395||-24|
|420||Alview-Dairyland Union Elementary||1,859||($732)||539||119|
|422||Alum Rock Union Elementary||119,834||($733)||472||50|
|424||Gerber Union Elementary||3,481||($737)||266||-158|
|427||Kernville Union Elementary||12,311||($743)||178||-249|
|429||Sundale Union Elementary||2,460||($755)||639||210|
|430||Buckeye Union Elementary||37,867||($757)||512||82|
|431||San Rafael City Elementary||56,743||($761)||488||57|
|432||Menifee Union Elementary||86,768||($762)||475||43|
|433||Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary||12,546||($765)||456||23|
|435||East Whittier City Elementary||75,579||($771)||471||36|
|436||Salinas City Elementary||81,923||($773)||381||-55|
|437||McSwain Union Elementary||5,778||($775)||342||-95|
|441||Roseville City Elementary||91,553||($783)||499||58|
|442||Seeley Union Elementary||3,133||($790)||600||158|
|443||Mariposa County Unified||17,347||($791)||391||-52|
|444||Los Gatos Union Elementary||29,586||($792)||400||-44|
|447||Jacoby Creek Elementary||2,678||($800)||682||235|
|448||Mesa Union Elementary||3,848||($801)||436||-12|
|449||Oroville City Elementary||28,363||($803)||425||-24|
|450||Mountain Valley Unified||2,870||($803)||590||140|
|451||Rescue Union Elementary||35,588||($804)||555||104|
|452||Centinela Valley Union High||156,241||($805)||727||275|
|455||Kingsburg Joint Union High||18,505||($809)||358||-97|
|456||Washington Union Elementary||7,305||($810)||519||63|
|457||Redondo Beach Unified||69,280||($811)||739||282|
|460||San Gabriel Unified||43,236||($818)||657||197|
|461||Sylvan Union Elementary||76,545||($820)||504||43|
|465||Potter Valley Community Unified||2,078||($826)||550||85|
|466||Los Alamitos Unified||50,834||($832)||426||-40|
|467||Live Oak Elementary||23,633||($835)||489||22|
|469||Byron Union Elementary||16,360||($838)||482||13|
|470||Lemoore Union Elementary||25,893||($840)||479||9|
This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.