Taxpayer Alert: Does Failed State Stem Cell Agency Deserve $5 Billion in 2020?

Back in 2004, real estate tycoon Robert Klein authored the $3 billion Proposition 71, a California ballot measure that promised a host of life-saving cures and therapies for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases through embryonic stem-cell research. The cures and therapies, promoters said, would generate royalties for the state, so it was billed as a win-win for California. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger backed the measure, which created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

CIRM bosses bagged huge salaries, but as the San Francisco Chronicle observed last September, “not a single federally approved therapy has resulted from CIRM-funded science. The predicted financial windfall has not materialized.” No royalties appeared until May, 2018, when a check for $190,345.87 arrived, less than the $225,000 salary of former state senator Art Torres, a CIRM hire. 

The $3 billion in bond funds authorized in 2004 “are expected to run out for research awards as early as September,” wrote David Jensen of California Stem Cell Report in May. Founder Robert Klein wants “more cash for creating a greater stem cell work force in the Golden State.” Klein has other ideas, including “a possible $5 billion bond initiative to rescue the agency from financial death.” So more money is the life-saving therapy for this failed state agency, which from the start was better described as the California Institute for the Redistribution of Money. With that in mind, taxpayers might note another Robert Klein project.

The president of Klein Financial Corporation “served as the Principal Consultant, Joint Committee on Community Development & Housing Needs for the California State Legislature from 1973 to 1975 during which time he designed, wrote and negotiated the legislation that established the California Housing Finance Agency.” 

As CalHFA explains, “For more than 40 years, the California Housing Finance Agency has supported the needs of renters and homebuyers by providing financing and programs so more low to moderate income Californians have a place to call home.” The supposedly self-supporting CalHFA has not been able to prevent the housing crisis decried by state legislators. Gov. Gavin Newsom is on record that “Housing is our greatest challenge” and “it took us decades to get to this place.” 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.
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