New Jersey Public Question Two (2007)

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New Jersey Public Question Two, also known as the Stem Cell Research Bond Act, appeared on the November 6, 2007 statewide ballot in New Jersey as a legislative referral, where it was defeated.[1] The last time that New Jersey voters defeated a statewide ballot measure was in 1990.[2]

Election results

New Jersey Public Question 2 (2007)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No696,06852.78%
Yes 622,725 47.22%

Election Results via: The New Jersey Department of State

Supporters of the failed bond issue chalked up their loss to overconfidence that resulted in "a tepid two-month campaign" that spent only about $600,000.[3]

Projected Cost
The New Jersey Office of Legislative Services has estimated the possible debt service costs based upon the following assumptions: if the bonds are issued at the rate of $45 million per year for 10 years beginning in state fiscal year 2008, with each issue sold under current market conditions with a 20-year maturity and a level debt service schedule, annual debt service would commence in fiscal year 2009 at about $3.7 million per year. It would then increase by that amount annually for the next nine years to a peak of about $37 million in 2018 and remain at that level annually until 2028 and then decline by $3.7 million per year for the next 10 years.[4]

Projected Economic Return
The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, estimates that the $450 million stem cell research expenditures will, over time, generate in New Jersey $360.2 million in additional gross domestic product (GDP), over 5,000 direct and indirect job years (a job-year is equal to one job lasting one year), $322.6 million in income, and over $27 million in state and local taxes. In addition, the report concludes stem cell research funds can enable New Jersey to stay at the forefront of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries nationally, to remain an attractive location for scientists and businesses, and to maintain strong growth in the size of its life science business sectors. Estimated benefits over time from these effects, which also include the $270 million investment in research facilities, are $1.6 billion in additional GDP, over 22,000 direct and indirect job-years, and nearly $119 million in state and local taxes. Further additional benefits to New Jersey attributable to the development of stem cell therapies anywhere include significant savings in health care costs, reductions in workdays lost to illness and injury, and substantial reductions in premature mortality.[5]

Background

New Jersey became the second state in the nation to authorize all forms of stem cell research in 2003. It's the first state to devote public monies to this field of research.

The state has awarded approximately $10 million in research grants, has built stem cell research facilities at Rutgers and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and has invested $5.5 million in two stem cell core facilities grants for research and training.

Recently enacted legislation (PL 2006, Chap 102) provides $270 million in state support to build and equip five stem cell and biomedical research facilities.[6]

Support

Governor Corzine has put $150,000 of his own money to promote the bond act, giving it to New Jersey for Hope a PAC that is running advertisements supporting the campaign.[7]

Other Legislative support includes:Assemblyman (Dem.) Neil Cohen, Senate President (Dem.) Richard J. Codey, and Assembly Speaker (Dem.) Joseph Roberts.

Michael J. Fox has also come out supporting the ballot. He appeared in television ads in at least three 2006 Congressional races promoting the research.[8]

Newspaper endorsements

  • The Courier Post wrote an editorial supporting the measure[9]

Opposition

Americans for Prosperity and the New Jersey Right to Life have come out strongly against the initiative.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) argue that the initiative ignores that the private sector has not invested into stem cell research. They cite that the results of stem research are inconclusive and that it amounts to corporate welfare for the biochemical industry. The group has run a "Vote No" campaign to fight the initiative.

Steve Lonegan, from AFP, was quoted saying,

"The simple fact that this statute says local governments can apply for research grants demonstrates either the incompetence of the act's authors or a plan to have political entities like Newark and Camden receive these "grants" and attempt to embark into "research." Given their failure to manage government services effectively, combined with a history of rampant corruption, this falls nothing short of being absurd.[10]

New Jersey Right to Life believes that it forces taxpayers to fund stem cell research.

Former police officer Steve McDonald, a paralyzed officer from New York is asking voters to reject it. He has worked with Right to Life to stop the issue saying, "A lot of politicians, many of whom are Democrats like me, say that harvesting embryos will help me walk again, hold my son in my arms and hold my wife again. So-called fetal tissue research has not produced one cure, not one."[11]

Both groups protest that the bond is ambiguous and misleading to voters that it will be paid through property taxes if sales tax revenues are insufficient.

Lawsuit

New Jersey's Right to life filed a lawsuit against the initiative saying that the context was misleading. Judge Neil H. Shuster of Superior Court in Mercer County ruled that the case of imminent harm was filed too late and would complicate the voting process by this point.[12]

New Jersey's Right to Life then filed an appeal which was also overruled by appeals court on Oct. 26, 2007. The ruling was unanimous, stating that such information would make the ballot too lengthy and confusing to voters. The opinion, written by Judge Clarkson S. Fisher Jr., found arguments over subject matter of the ballot were better left to campaigning.[13]

New Jersey Right to Life said they would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Polls

A poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University found 47 percent back the proposal while 38 percent oppose it. The study also found that Democrats support the bond by a 2-1 margin and Republicans oppose it by a 5-3 margin.[14][15]

Support Opposed
Men 43% 45%
Women 51% 31%
Moderates 47% 38%
Liberals 68% 16%
Conservatives 32% 57%

A previous study by Rutgers-Eagleton found that a 57-36 split, favoring the proposal.

Taxpayer's perspective

Public Question 2 would issue $450 million in new debt to foster research into stem cells. NTU takes no position on stem-cell research and is looking at this measure for strictly fiscal policy reasons.

See also

External links

References