Texas Proposition 15 (2007)

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Texas Proposition 15 appeared on the November 6, 2007 in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

Proposition 15 is a constitutional amendment that creates the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. The amendment authorizes the issuance of $3 billion in bonds to support the institute.[1]

Proposition 15 appeared on the statewide November 2007 ballot in Texas along with fifteen other statewide propositions; all of them passed. All sixteen ballot measures were legislative referrals voted onto the ballot by the Texas State Legislature.

Election results

Texas Proposition 15 (2007)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 673,763 61.5%
No422,64738.5%

Text of measure

The short ballot summary voters saw on their ballot read: "The constitutional amendment requiring the creation of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorizing the issuance of up to $3 billion in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for research in Texas to find the causes of and cures for cancer."[2]

Specific provisions

More specifically Proposition 15:

  • grants for cancer research, for research facilities, and for research opportunities in Texas to develop therapies, protocols, medical pharmaceuticals, or procedures for the cure or substantial mitigation of all types of cancer in humans;
  • grants for cancer prevention and control programs in Texas to mitigate the incidence of cancer;
  • the purchase of laboratory facilities by or on behalf of a state agency or grant recipient;

Support

Texas is attempting to build its future on five key economic sectors: biotechnology and life sciences; aerospace and defense; energy; advanced technology and manufacturing; and communications technology. The institute would be an inspired addition to the state's already impressive cluster of biotechnology assets and a wise investment in economic development -- as well as a laudable contribution to the well-being of humanity.[3]

Newspaper endorsement

The Star-Telegram newspaper editorialized in favor of the amendment on October 1st, writing:

  • Texas is attempting to build its future on five key economic sectors: biotechnology and life sciences; aerospace and defense; energy; advanced technology and manufacturing; and communications technology. The institute would be an inspired addition to the state's already impressive cluster of biotechnology assets and a wise investment in economic development -- as well as a laudable contribution to the well-being of humanity.[4]

Austin Chronicle

  • "Like who's going to vote for cancer and against Lance Armstrong? Again, short of loan sharks, this is not the best way to pay for public needs, but it beats Gov. Perry's proposal to sell the lottery. Maybe it will help establish a health-care tradition in Texas."[5]

Dallas Morning Star

Groups supporting Proposition 15

The KillCancer.org is a group of cancer survivors and other organizations that is supporting the measure. The group was founded by Cathy Bonner.[6]

Other sponsors of the bill include:Rep. Ellen Cohen, Sen. Jane Nelson, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, and Rice University President David Leebron.[7]

Live Strong, Lance Armstrong group, has done a Survival One tour promoting the proposition.[8]

Texans to Cure Cancer

  • The treasurer, John Sharp, said "This is an investment in a future of hope and human possibilities. Our goal is to restore the momentum of cancer research in Texas at a time when federal funding is being cut even though scientists are at the threshold of major breakthroughs."[9]

Opponents

While cancer research doubtless is a worthwhile undertaking, medical research should be left in the hands of private organizations. Creative research is neither the role nor the talent of state government. If government funding is to be used for cancer research, it is more appropriate that research funding be addressed at the national level, because Texas taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for research that would benefit the entire country. Given that there are no guarantees that the research resulting from the proposed amendment would lead to a cure for Texans suffering with cancer, this endeavor would compete for state funds with priorities that have a more direct impact on meeting state needs.[10]

Groups against Prop 15

Opponents say the bill would create competition against the private sector, which is already effective in the fight against cancer. The money would be better spent as performance-based grants to private cancer research groups and hospitals, rather than draining talent from respected research institutions. [11]

“To see the future of Texas cancer research look no further than TxDOT. A nearly 8 billion dollar budget and yet today there is no money for any new road construction, anywhere in the state. State cancer money will go to the politically well connected with no regard to quality of research. Let the citizens of the state of Texas decide which disease research to support, and how much to spend.”-- Steve Ravet, San Marcos, Hays County Libertarian Party[12]

“For the record, we are against Cancer, but we're also against this 'bright idea' that spending massive amounts of government money is the most effective way to cure this disease. Since heart disease is still the number one killer in the US, it turns out that Texans would be better served by frequently walking the halls of the Capitol than lobbying the State for Proposition 15.”-- Nathan Thompson, Austin, Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas[13]

"As one whose wife died of cancer, I might at first blush appear to be the Grinch who stole Christmas. But it would be intellectually remiss not to reveal the shortcomings of and alternatives to Proposition 15, which is on the ballot Nov. 6."-Ronald Trowbridge, Ph.D., of Houston is a visiting fellow at Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Empower Texans[14]

"Anytime the government gets involved there is a waste of money through oversight costs and mishandling of issues by creating unneeded bureaucracy. The passage of the proposition does not prevent your money from being wasted on financing the research centers and oversight costs. As much as 15 percent of your money can automatically go toward expenses other than cancer research." - Laura Elizabeth Morales of Young Conservatives of Texas[15]

"If medical research is a role of state government, the funds should come out of the taxes we already pay. Add to that price tag the $1.6 billion in interest rates the bonds will reportedly generate. Texans want a cure for cancer, but we should question whether $3 billion-plus in public money is the real remedy." - Peggy Venable, Americans for Prosperity[16]

Lance Armstrong

Proposition 15 received celebrity support from famed cyclist Lance Armstrong.[17]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas

As laid out in Article 17 of the Texas Constitution, in order for a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot, the Texas State Legislature must propose the amendment in a joint resolution of both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. The joint resolution can originate in either the House or the Senate. The resolution must be adopted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Senate.

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