The medical research sector sure has a sense of entitlement—to the point that some seem to think that funding their work matters more than meeting basic community needs. How else explain the hundreds of millions the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine continues to borrow and spend on fancy buildings and stem cell research (embryonic, cloning, adult, and IPSC). We can’t afford it!
And now, in another case of special interest pleading, AB 190 in California, authored by Democrat Bob Wieckowski, would divert millions in funds derived from a special penalty fee on all vehicle code violations to pay for spinal cord injury research administered by the University of California. From AB 190:
SECTION 1. Section 1463.29 is added to the Penal Code, to read: 1463.29...
(b), an additional penalty in an amount equal to three dollars ($3) shall be levied upon every fine, penalty, or forfeiture imposed and collected by any court on all offenses involving imposed upon every conviction for a violation of any provision of Division 11 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Vehicle Code, or a violation of any local ordinance adopted pursuant to the Vehicle Code, except offenses relating to parking as defined in subdivision (i) of Section 1463...
(c) Penalties imposed and collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited with the county treasurer and distributed each month in accordance with Section 1463.001 for transfer to the spinal cord injury research fund created within the University of California pursuant to Section 104335 of the Health and Safety Code.
I am sorry, these special funds are part of the reason why California is in such dire financial straights.
Paying for admittedly important medical research is not a fundamental duty of the State of California. We are worse than flat broke. We are imploding. If we are going to raise extra funds from vehicle code violations, that money should go to pay for basic state services that are being slashed to the bone, such as education, health care for children, and services for people with disabilities—not a special interest sector. And who would own the patents derived from the research? The people of California? I’ll bet not!
Universities in California have billions in endowment funds. Use that money for research. Or hit up the philanthropists. But in this fiscal emergency, all funds collected from tickets should be put into the general fund.