by MJ

I’ve been putting in the time to research the many propositions Californians have on the ballot for the November 3rd election. Deciding how to use my vote has been a challenge—both sides of the propositions giving sound arguments. I’ve previously written about Proposition 22, “App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative (2020),” and you can find that article here. In that article, I wrote that democracy isn’t easy. It hasn’t gotten easier when coming up with a decision on Proposition 14, which “authorizes bonds continuing stem cell research.” Check out the California General Election Official Voter Information Guide, where I was able to see both sides of the argument for and against Prop. 14.  

 

ABC 10 has a YouTube channel that covers all of the propositions on the ballot. My friend shared it with me, extolling the succinctness of their videos. In their video on Prop. 14, Brandon Rittiman starts off by saying “Prop. 14 asks you to approve bond money for stem cell research, and it’s one of many questions this year that will take us back in time.” What he’s referring to is 2004’s Proposition 71, which dealt with stem cell research and is mentioned in the proposition’s background section in the information guide. Prop. 14 if passed, will provide funding to continue where Prop. 71 left off.

 

NO

 

It is important to understand the background before making a decision and I feel the ABC 10 video helped in that regard. Not mentioned in the guide is that Prop. 71 came about when the Federal Government, under George W. Bush’s leadership, put in place a ban on stem cell research. A majority of Californians went out in 2004 to support Prop. 71. Now with Prop. 14 on the ballot, those against Prop. 14 have two main arguments.

  1. There is no longer a Federal ban on stem cell research. Therefore, the state does not need to borrow money to fund research.
  2. Prop. 71 has not produced any results that warrant billions of dollars in additional funding. According to the argument against, “more than $100 Million in grants to private companies headquartered in other states. More than $2.4 million in salary over the past decade to the part-time vice chairman of the board, a former California legislator who is neither a doctor nor a medical scientist.”

 

These points don't give me much confidence in Prop. 14. 

 

While reading the arguments against Prop. 14, in particular the burden that will fall on taxpayers, I couldn’t help but think about what is currently happening in Los Angeles. Homelessness is on the rise and Los Angeles residents are leaving California in droves. An article from the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail states, “More people are leaving California than arriving as the state reels from devastating wildfires that only worsen by the year, power outages, poor air quality, and a burgeoning cost of living.” With more people leaving, I fear those unable to move, and those determined to stay will be left paying back investors an estimated $7.8 Billion. 

 

I reached out to John Seiler, whose name and email are listed on the guide as a resource for additional information against Prop. 14. He got back to me within an hour of sending him an email. What he wrote back was more than reasonable. In regards to the money that will be used for funding, Mr. Seiler writes, “these are bonds. So the money has to be paid back somehow from the General Fund. That means two things could happen:

  1. Taxes will have to go up to pay for it.
  2. Something else in the budget will have to be cut.

 

What will be cut? Could be teachers, nurses, roads, firefighters, etc. The legislature would decide that. Nothing is free.”

 

YES

 

Although being fiscally responsible is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind, and the arguments against Prop. 14 raise excellent points, I believe a “Yes” vote is what’s best for our future. The research done in this state can very well save lives. But my concern for California residents paying this back in some way, shape, or form weighs heavy on my brain. With me potentially leaving this state next year, I worry about voting “Yes” and then not contributing to paying back the loan. In the “Rebuttal to Argument Against Proposition 14” section, its authors write “Funding research for new therapies and cures is from bonds, not a tax. Average cost to State equals less than $5 per person annually, with no state payments until 2026, the 6th year of California’s economic recovery.”

 

The authors of the rebuttal to the argument against Prop. 14 also write, “California funding is essential; funding from Washington, DC is unpredictable and unreliable.” My notes in this section read “Cali leads the way.” It doesn’t take a lot to convince me that the Federal Government is unstable. A president from an opposing party can do a complete 180-degree turn from the policies of their predecessor. Furthermore, California has led our country by enacting policies that deal with its residents' privacy (California Consumer Privacy Act), and its emissions standards, which are stricter than the requirements of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 

 

Unfortunately, the United States government, and governments all over the world for that matter, do not have a good track record of being responsible with tax dollars. Still, that doesn’t take away from the good these programs can do. Private institutions and federal programs are doing stem cell research, nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt that the state of California is involved. When discussing Prop. 14 with a friend, she also voiced concerns over the amount of money it will cost to continue funding. Yet, according to her, “my brother works in the research portion of the hospital and works on grants that truly have saved lives in underrepresented areas.” Her brother’s experience has convinced her that a “Yes” on Prop. 14 is the best course for her. 

 

Where’s My Head At

 

To be completely honest, I lean towards “Yes,” but the financial concerns, the poor track record of success, coupled with me leaving the state next year has me siding with a “No” on Proposition 14. Please share your thoughts on Prop. 14 and let me know what you think. Send me an email at [email protected]

 

Thanks for reading!