Skip to comments.Corzine hails start of stem cell facility
Posted on 10/25/2007 8:12:48 PM PDT by Coleus
Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Tuesday marked the start of construction on what he hailed as a world-class research facility many hope will make the state a global leader in stem cell work. "The Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey will serve as the nexus of cutting edge scientific breakthroughs that will improve and save the lives of millions of our fellow citizens," Corzine said in an afternoon ceremony near the construction site.
The $150 million, 18-story tower is to be built on a parking lot in downtown New Brunswick next to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, near Rutgers University, several other schools and hospitals and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Many believe stem cell research will bring cures for ailments such as spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, sickle cell anemia and multiple sclerosis.
The building, expected to be completed in spring 2011, is to have facilities for research, clinical study and outpatient treatment. It will also feature the Christopher Reeve Pavilion in honor of the "Superman" actor who was born in Princeton and promoted stem cell research after he was paralyzed in a 1995 horse riding accident. Reeve died in 2004 at age 52. His brother, Benjamin, said Reeve would have appreciated the honor. "He would be most heartened, most grateful, for the work that will be done here and the commitment that work represents," he said.
Richard Schmidt of Demarest, who has Parkinson's, said the facility "may hold the key to unlocking life as I knew it." "It symbolizes hope and better days to come," he added. The money to build the facility was included in legislation signed into law in December 2006. Alissa L. Johnson, of the Genetic Technologies Project for National Conference of State Legislatures, said New Jersey appears to be the first state to use public money to construct stem cell research facilities.
"This is an incredible day for the people of New Jersey and the world over who will benefit from the breakthroughs that may emerge here," said Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex. The law providing money for the New Brunswick facility also authorized $50 million to construct stem cell research facilities at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, $50 million for a biomedical research center in Camden, $10 million for research at the Garden State Cancer Center in Belleville and $10 million to do the same at the Eli Katz Umbilical Cord Blood Program in Allendale.
The state recently approved predevelopment work on the Camden and Belleville facilities. "We are at a critical juncture in the history of science and New Jersey is seizing the moment by providing the facilities where the best and brightest minds can unlock the promise of stem cell therapies," said Assemblyman Neil Cohen, D-Union. The New Brunswick facility will be a collaborative effort between The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University.
Abortion foes, who oppose embryonic stem cell research because it destroys human embryos, decried the plans and have filed a lawsuit against the state to block it from asking voters next month whether to approve borrowing $450 million for stem cell research grants. An appeals court is expected to decide the lawsuit soon. Marie Tasy, the executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, which filed the lawsuit, charged supporters of state investment in stem cell research with "shamelessly exploiting the sick and infirmed with empty promises of miracle cures and false economic benefits." Gunter Schemmann, a cancer researcher at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, held a sign during the ceremony that featured an embryo and read, "Even then you were precious." "I believe human life starts at conception and to destroy an embryo to get stem cells is to destroy human life," he said.
The election of all 120 state legislators is a little more than two weeks away, but most voters haven't given them or the rest of the ballot much thought yet. Democrats, who have the upper hand in the Legislature and want to keep it, aren't talking much -- especially about promises of a more equitable way to distribute state school aid and about Gov. Jon Cor zine's asset monetization plan to ease the state's suffocating $33.7 billion debt. But discussion of New Jersey's precarious fiscal situation can't wait until after the election. It's right there on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Two major spending issues ask voters whether the state should go even deeper in debt. One would allow borrowing $450 million to fund stem cell research, while the second would okay borrowing another $200 million for open space programs. Before deciding on the merits of the questions, voters need to consider whether the state can afford to add $650 million to its already budget-crippling debt. This push to jack up the state's debt comes just weeks before Corzine is expected to unveil his long-time-coming asset monetization plan. The idea is to use state assets to raise money to reduce the state's staggering debt service payments, which come to nearly $2.7 billion in the current budget and are growing.
Right now, the $33.7 billion debt places New Jersey fourth on the list of states with the heaviest debt loads. It amounts to $3,317 for every man, woman and child -- a total that has tripled in 10 years. Obviously, something must be done to alleviate this fiscal fiasco. Corzine says his still-se cret asset monetization plan will do that. But how can you ask voters in the beginning of November to add another $650 million to the state's debt and then argue later that this debt is strangling the state and preventing implementation of much-needed programs? Perhaps this apparent contradiction would be easier to understand if voters could count on not being asked to approve another bond issue for a long time. But they can't. Voters' fears of profligate politicians are borne out by what happened with the stem cell program. Initially, the plan called for $100 million to construct a facility in New Brunswick, with another $50 million for equipment and technology. Then everybody wanted a piece. So lawmakers reverted to the Jersey solution. They agreed to spend $270 million -- out of the state budget -- on additional facilities in Belleville and Camden.
Now for the bond issue. The original proposal was for $230 million for research grants. It's up to $450 million after add- ons. The $200 million for preserv ing open space, improving parks and buying land to protect water resources is in tended to be a "bridge" loan -- until a more permanent source of funding can be identified. Corzine has suggested asset monetization could produce enough to cover future open space programs. If that's the case, why not wait a year? Making a case against preserving open spaces in the nation's most densely populated state is tough. Arguing against stem cell research while recognizing the hope it offers to millions is equally difficult. But New Jersey's taxpayers need to look at the numbers before walking into voting booths on Nov. 6.
As always, when big “investments” are made in embryonic stem cell research its always the taxpayer on the hook, never private investment.
if it was real science it would be funded by the private sector on its own
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NEWARK -- An attorney on Monday compared stem-cell research with science fiction, arguing that New Jersey voters lack enough information to decide a $450 million bond question next month.
"People don't know what cloned human embryos are," Bertram P. Goltz Jr., representing the Legal Center for Defense of Life, told an appellate court. "It's 'Brave New World.' "
But opposing lawyers said the ballot's interpretive statement tells voters the facts about the proposed expenditure and should not be altered.
"The statement warns the taxpayers that the state will be taking on debt," said Larry Etzweiler, a senior deputy attorney general. "The voters read the [newspapers.] The voters know that bond issues have to be paid by someone."
At issue is whether the state should borrow $450 million to finance grants for stem-cell research, which scientists say holds potential to treat a number of devastating medical conditions, including leukemia, Parkinson's disease and paralysis. The state will ask voters to approve the expenditure in a ballot question Nov. 6.
Opponents say such research, which often involves human embryos, is morally reprehensible. They want a fuller explanation of the science to accompany the ballot question.
A lower court last month denied the plaintiff's request to stop the printing of the ballots and to put the issue before legislators, not the voting public. They appealed to the three-judge panel that heard arguments Monday.
Judge Edwin H. Stern said the panel will rule quickly, because the election is a scant two weeks away. Moreover, he said, he expected one side or the other to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
"We are not unaware of the fact that we are not the last stop," Stern said.
since I have a complete lack of knowledge about this particular facility, is it embryonic stem cell research only?
I don’t have any issue with adult stem cell research. I’m just asking since there wasn’t anything in the original post.
Americans for Prosperity is preparing to work hard to defeat higher taxes and more debt this November by defeating Ballot Questions 1, 2 and 3. This is the opportunity New Jersey Taxpayers have been waiting for. A chance to send a clear message to Trenton-NO More Taxes!
I voted “NO” on ALL the ballot initiatives.
I am thrilled Corzine lost.
Government has NO BUSINESS in RESEARCH like this and EMBRYONIC is offensive. ADULT stem cell research has shown promise but still the GOVERNMENT has NO BUSINESS in that. The issue of research belongs in the PRIVATE sector. The PRIVATE sector isn't doing much with EMBRYONIC stem cell research. The PRIVATE sector is busily exploring ADULT stem cell research because that is where the break throughs are coming and patients don't need ANTI - REJECTION drugs so that cuts out the pharmaceuticals. Corzine was unable to BUY voters votes and obfuscate the issue with FALSE HOPE.
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