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Election Preview: States Consider TBED-Related Ballot Measures

October 31, 2007

Voters in four states will consider several TBED-related measures at the polls next week, including a $3 billion cancer research proposal, state funding for stem cell research, and an R&D bond proposal to spark job creation in emerging technology sectors.

 

Texas

Texas voters will consider 16 separate ballot items this year, including Proposition 15, a bond proposal to authorize the state to issue $300 million a year in bonds over 10 years for grants to fund scientific research at the newly created Cancer Prevention and Research Institute. Gov. Rick Perry signed HB 14 earlier this year, establishing the institute and dedicating funding of up to $3 billion, pending a voter approved constitutional amendment (see the June 27, 2007 issue of the Digest).

 

Opponents of the proposition argue the proposal is an unfair burden on taxpayers, citing $1.6 billion in interest that could accrue over the 10-year period, according to an article in the Austin American-Statesman.

 

Also appearing on the 2007 ballot is Proposition 2, a measure to allow the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to issue $500 million in general obligation bonds to finance low-interest student loans. Since 1965, voters have reauthorized the bonding authority for this program six times, and, without reauthorization, all current bond funds will be exhausted in spring 2009, according to the University of Texas-Pan American.

 

New Jersey

Voters will consider a proposal to provide grants for stem cell research. The New Jersey Stem Cell Research Bond Act authorizes the state to issue bonds totaling $450 million over 10 years to fund stem cell research projects at institutions of higher education and other nonprofit and for-profit entities in the state. Grants would be awarded to researchers by the Commission on Science and Technology.

 

The bond referendum is part of the state’s ongoing effort to position New Jersey as a national leader in stem cell research. Lawmakers approved $270 million last year for construction of five biotechnology research facilities across the state (see the Jan. 8, 2007 issue of the Digest). A groundbreaking ceremony for the first facility to be approved for funding, the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, took place last week. In 2005, former Gov. Richard Codey proposed a $380 million stem cell initiative that included $150 million for a world-class stem cell research facility and a $230 million ballot initiative to provide stem cell research grants. However, lawmakers did not vote on the measure in order to move it to the ballot.

 

Maine

A $55 million R&D bond proposal in Maine is aimed at stimulating economic development and job creation for targeted technology sectors through loans and grants administered by the Maine Technology Institute. The bulk of the money - $50 million - will be distributed as grants that must be matched dollar-for-dollar with federal grants or private funding.

 

The R&D bond proposal is a component of the $295 million three-part package that also includes funding for infrastructure improvements within the University of Maine System (see the April 9, 2007 issue of the Digest).  

 

Washington

A ballot measure in Washington would make increasing taxes more difficult. If passed, Initiative 960 will require two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval for tax increases, legislative approval of fee increases, certain published information on tax-increasing bills, and advisory votes on taxes enacted without voter approval.

Maine