Just a quick follow-up on Jason Balog’s FNP article last week. I’ve seen a couple different angles on the same story I wanted to report on since I know you’re all on the edge of you seats. Really, I’m just looking for any excuse not to do the real work I am commissioned for at the moment, writing Preventive Maintenance SOPs.
This from the Daily Women’s Health Policy Report:
Maryland House Approves FY 2009 Budget That Reduces Stem Cell Research Funding
[March 21, 2008]
The Maryland House of Delegates on Wednesday voted 105-34 to approve a fiscal year 2009 budget that reduces funding for the state’s stem cell research program to $15 million, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) allocated $23 million for the program in his budget proposal. The Senate last week approved its FY 2009 budget that reduces funding for the program to $5 million, the Post reports (Wagner, Washington Post, 3/21).
During debate over the budget, the House rejected two amendments proposed by House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell (R) and Del. Tony McConkey (R) that would have eliminated even more funding for the stem cell research program. McConkey argued that the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, which administers the grants, has been slow in distributing two previous rounds of funding provided by the Legislature (Wagner, Washington Post, 3/20). “I think this is a reasonable amendment given our fiscal situation,” McConkey said.
Del. John Bohanan (D) said eliminating all the funding could wipe out the stem cell program. “One year of hiatus causes enough disruption to this program that we may as well opt out of it and not fund it ever again,” Bohanan said (Witte, AP/Washington Times, 3/20). It is important that the state maintain its commitment to stem cell research given federal funding restrictions, Bohanan said. He added, “This is an important program that we’ve just begun” (Washington Post, 3/20).
I heard last year that a number of people who had been funded are really getting annoyed at TEDCO, because they haven’t received monies they were granted (presumably in 4Q 2007 funds were supposed to be available). Now it is apparent that one of the main reasons funding is being cut is because TEDCO hasn’t paid out the funds already authorized. There is some perception that they have $20MM sitting around in a check book somewhere. I am not certain how the speding authozation process takes place, but I’m pretty sure this is not the case.
On 15 March, the Baltimore Sun reports:
First among them is the House’s move to fund the state’s embryonic stem cell research grant program at $15 million – an $8 million cut – compared with the Senate’s efforts to bring that funding down to $5 million.
The disagreement centers on the fact that of the $38 million appropriated to the program in the two years since the General Assembly agreed to fund stem cell research, only $7.1 million has been spent, with $8 million more committed.
Some Republicans have called for cutting the entire $23 million O’Malley proposed.
In yesterday’s House hearing, Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., a St. Mary’s County Democrat, asked fellow members of the Appropriations Committee to vote down an amendment proposed by Del. Gail H. Bates, a Howard County Republican, who sought to cut all the money this year.
“No matter how you slice it, it is a major hiccup for this developing industry,” he said. “If you do that, it would send a bad signal to researchers.”
“I’m suggesting this is the time to hiccup,” Bates said, noting the economic downturn. The committee voted against Bates’ amendment and several other GOP efforts to impose more cuts. Bates and Del. Susan L.M. Aumann, a Baltimore County Republican, said more reductions were necessary to prepare for the possibility that the economy will get worse.
This quote just boils my blood! It is NOT AN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH FUND!!! Only a small amount of the initial fund went to anyone doing Embryonic stem cell research. By the way, this research would still have to follow federal guidelines, using approved ES lines, lest the researchers be disqualified from receiving any funding from the NIH.
So, in a strange twist of fate, the problem hinges on the fact TEDCO can’t spend money fast enough.