New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) on Tuesday urged voters in the state to approve a Nov. 6 referendum that would allow the state to borrow $450 million over 10 years to fund stem cell research in the state, the Bergen Record reports (Groves, Bergen Record, 10/24).

In July, Corzine signed a bill authorizing the referendum. The state Assembly in June voted 50-27 and the Senate voted 31-3 to approve the legislation. If approved by voters, the funds would be used to award grants to institutions -- including colleges, universities, and state and local government agencies -- that conduct research on both adult and human embryonic stem cells, and umbilical cord blood, according to state Rep. Neil Cohen (D). Borrowing for stem cell research could increase the state's debt by as much as $37 million annually, according to a nonpartisan legislative analysis (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 10/17).

"Ethically and morally, we're doing the right thing," Corzine said, adding, "If ever there was a reason to vote, to go out and push for cures," it is the Nov. 6 referendum (Bergen Record, 10/24). He was speaking at a ceremony in New Brunswick, N.J., to mark the groundbreaking of the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, the AP/CNNMoney reports (AP/CNNMoney, 10/23).

Corzine in December 2006 signed into law a bill (S 1471) allowing the state to borrow $270 million for the expansion of embryonic stem cell research and facilities, including $150 million for the New Brunswick facility (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 12/22/06). The facility, which is expected to be completed in spring 2011, will have research and clinical study facilities, as well as outpatient treatment facilities (AP/CNNMoney, 10/23).

Court Challenge
The Legal Center for the Defense of Life on Monday asked a state appellate court panel in Newark to remove the referendum from the Nov. 6 ballot and put it before the Legislature (Bergen Record, 10/24). The group last month filed a lawsuit on behalf of New Jersey Right to Life and 15 New Jersey residents in Trenton, N.J., Superior Court, alleging that the ballot question is deceptive because it does not explain that the borrowed funds would pay for human cloning or that the debt could be repaid with property taxes. The suit sought to stop printing of the ballot and to bar the question from going to voters.

Superior Court Judge Neil Shuster ruled that the referendum must remain on the Nov. 6 ballot. Shuster ruled that the ballot proposal appears "fair, balanced and neutral" and rejected the argument that it is misleading to voters. He also rejected the groups' request to delay the printing of ballots for the election, allowing county clerks to begin printing the ballots late last month. A three-judge panel of a New Jersey Appeals Court earlier this month said it would hear an appeal in a case asking that votes on the referendum not be counted and that voting machines be adjusted to not accept votes on the referendum (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 10/17).

The panel is expected to rule quickly on the case, the Record reports (Bergen Record, 10/24). Marie Tasy, executive director of NJRTL, said supporters of the referendum are "shamelessly exploiting the sick and infirmed with empty promises of miracle cures and false economic benefits" (AP/CNNMoney, 10/23).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation© 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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