January 23, 2007
The Lege wants to cure cancer

This sounds interesting.

Texas could become a world leader in cancer research if state lawmakers succeed in a plan to bring $3 billion to the state.

The plan, which several lawmakers discussed today in a meeting with Gov. Rick Perry, Lance Armstrong and leaders of the state's top research institutions, would provide $300 million a year for 10 years to fund a statewide research collaborative on a disease that kills about 35,000 Texans a year.

"I can't think of anything that I think is more worthwhile, anything that will make Texas more the epicenter of an extraordinary focus worldwide in this effort," Perry said to the group over lunch at the Four Seasons in Austin. "This is a powerful moment in Texas history."

Perry compared the potential economic impact of the cancer research with that of the space program. He added that cancer research could be used to conquer other diseases.


Funding details haven't been worked out, but one possibility is for Texans to vote on a constitutional amendment that would authorize general obligation bonds that would be financed over 10 years.

"The vision's there, no doubt about it, but we have to come up with a structure long-term that's good for the state of Texas policy-wise," Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, said.

Sounds pretty exciting, and there's a nice bipartisan list of supporters behind it, so I'd say this has a decent chance of passing. I confess to being a little puzzled as to why there's so much more enthusiasm for this sort of thing than there is for fully funding children's health insurance, but as I don't want to be a buzzkiller, I'll just mutter quietly to myself over here in the corner. Carry on without me.

There is one point to raise from the weekend story that was a prelude to this meeting.

Federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research also have contributed to the increased state role. Voters in California in 2004 approved spending $3 billion over ten years on embryonic stem cell research, which many Republicans -- and their conservative constituents -- consider immoral.

Efforts to expand cancer research funding in Texas, where Republicans control every statewide office and both houses of the Legislature, haven't included discussions about embryonic stem cell research, said state Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland.

Keffer said the goal is to mount a "full frontal attack on the disease."

So, um, if it turns out that embryonic stem cells might have a role to play in curing cancer, would they then be included as part of this "full frontal attack"? Or would we put religious interests ahead of research, and just settle for a partial frontal attack?

Well, there I go being a wet blanket again. I'll just go away now and point you to Vince for further info. Check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 23, 2007 to That's our Lege

This sounds like Rick Perry was watching an old episode of the West Wing - remember when Sam decides he's going to do the exact same thing in the State of the Union.

Posted by: Joe on January 23, 2007 8:38 AM

Texas could become a world leader in cancer research
What do they think M. D. Anderson has been doing all these years?

Posted by: Joe White on January 23, 2007 9:01 AM

I'll just come over into the corner and mutter with you...

Posted by: becky on January 24, 2007 11:10 AM