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Updates on Stem Cell Research in Illinois and New York

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New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research

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For Immediate Release Contact: Weingarten, Reid & McNally, LLC at 518-465-7330

New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research Call Upon Governor Pataki and the Legislature to Increase the State Cigarette Excise Tax by 50 Cents to Provide $100 Million for Stem-Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine

(March 22, 2005, Albany, NY)- Today, the New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research (NYAMR) are joined by the Medical Society State of New York (MSSNY) and the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP-NYS) in calling upon the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Assembly Speaker Silver and members of the General Conference Committee and the Joint Budget Subcommittee on Health (letter attached) to increase the state cigarette excise tax by 50 cents, bringing the total to two dollars a pack, to provide $100 million for stem-cell research and regenerative medicine.

“Raising the cigarette excise tax by 50 cents, a proposal also supported by the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, will result in at least $300 million in additional revenue for the State this year alone” stated Robin Elliott, Chairman of NYAMR. “This would enable the State to appropriate $100 million for stem-cell research and regenerative medicine, while also providing $200 million to support other needed public health initiatives without posing any additional burden upon the State’s hard-pressed general budget.”

New York last raised its tobacco tax in 2002. Since then, more than 30 states have increased their taxes and New York now has the eighth highest tax in the country (behind Rhode Island, New Jersey, Michigan, Montana, Alaska, Connecticut and Massachusetts). In fact, taxes in Rhode Island and New Jersey are as high as $2.46 and $2.40, respectively. Increasing the state’s tobacco excise tax would also yield significant long-term savings for New York by reducing tobacco use, resulting in a reduction in the State’s health costs for smoking-related illnesses and deaths.

“This proposed initiative would protect public health in two vitally important ways: reducing the incidence of tobacco use, the most preventable cause of death in the United States, and increasing funding for cutting edge research, which holds the potential for treatments and cures to countless, incurable diseases including Juvenile Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Spinal Cord Injuries, Heart Disease, Pediatric Neurological Disorders, Muscular Dystrophy and many others that threaten the lives of thousands of New Yorkers and compromise the well-being of millions of New York’s families” explained Gerard Conway, Director of Governmental Affairs for MSSNY.

These life saving breakthroughs will only happen if adequate funding is made available to advance stem-cell research, including embryonic stem cells. Since such support is currently not available through the National Institutes of Health because of federal policy restrictions, the initiative will only happen if individual states step forward to provide financial support for the development of new stem-cell lines.

“Over the past few months, New York’s renowned academic centers have been the target of intense recruiting from other states including California and neighboring New Jersey, which have allocated significant state funding for stem-cell research”, according to Elliott. “New York cannot afford to lose this talent. New York faces the prospect of a serious competitive disadvantage -- for its citizens, for its scientists and for its medical institutions -- if it does not commit State funding to support stem-cell research. It is imperative that our State preserve the scientific assets that it has worked so hard over the years to develop.”

NYAMR, MSSNY and CP-NYS strongly urge the Governor and the Legislature to increase the cigarette excise tax by 50 cents, in order to provide $100 million in State funding for stem-cell research and regenerative medicine in the Final 2005-06 State Budget.

To contact those quoted in this release, please call Weingarten, Reid & McNally at (518) 465-7330.

New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research (NYAMR) is a coalition of patient advocacy groups, faith-affiliated organizations, medical colleges and biotechnology research institutions with a shared interest in encouraging and funding embryonic stem-cell research in New York State. NYAMR comprises almost 30 academic, patient-advocacy and citizens organizations from around the state.

New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research

Medical Society State of New York
Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State
March 22, 2005

Governor George E. Pataki Senate Majority Leader Bruno Assembly Speaker Silver Today, the New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research (NYAMR) is pleased to announce that the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) and the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP-NYS) have joined NYAMR in support of funding for stem-cell research and regenerative medicine.

Together, we request that the state increase the cigarette excise tax by 50 cents, bringing the total to two dollars a pack, in order to fund stem-cell research without posing any additional burden upon the State’s hard-pressed general budget.

Increasing the cigarette excise tax by 50 cents would generate additional revenues of at least $300 million in the first year – enough to support an appropriation of $100 million for the first year of the stem-cell research program, in addition to supporting other needed public health initiatives such as $55 million for the State Tobacco Control Program and $7.5 million for cancer screening and treatment services for the uninsured. The excise tax increase would leave an additional $137.5 million for other programs and initiatives, while also raising New York to the level of others states with the highest tobacco taxes (currently, we are eighth and this increase would bring us to the position of third).

An increase of the cigarette excise tax by 50 cents has also been supported, for just and important public health reasons, by such organizations as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the American Lung Association. By allocating the resulting revenues to stem-cell research and other public health programs, this proposed initiative would protect public health in two vitally important ways: reducing the incidence of tobacco use, the most preventable cause of death in the United States, and increasing funding for cutting edge research involving stem-cells, which hold the potential for treatments and cures to diseases that threaten many thousands of lives and compromise the well-being of millions of families.

New York last raised its tobacco tax in 2002. Since then, more than 30 states have increased their taxes and New York now has the eighth highest tax in the country (behind Rhode Island, New Jersey, Michigan, Montana, Alaska, Connecticut and Massachusetts). In fact, taxes in Rhode Island and New Jersey are as high as $2.46 and $2.40, respectively. Increasing the state’s tobacco excise tax would also yield significant long-term savings for New York by reducing tobacco use, resulting in a reduction in the State’s health costs for smoking-related illnesses and deaths.

More than one-half of New York’s families have a child or adult who has suffered, or will suffer, from a serious, often terminal, medical condition that could potentially be treated or cured with stem-cell-derived therapies. As financial pressures rise, our medical institutions will find themselves increasingly unable to meet the needs of patients, or to control spiraling costs … unless a commitment is made at the highest level to broaden the focus of the State’s health care enterprise from the simple maintenance of health to the active pursuit of prevention and cures.

With its wealth of scientific talent, New York is uniquely poised to help lead the national drive for cures and/or effective treatments for such currently-incurable diseases as Juvenile Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Spinal Cord Injuries, Heart Disease, Pediatric Neurological Disorders, Muscular Dystrophy and many others.

We know the potential for cures that is presented by regenerative medical therapies that utilize stem cells. We also know that these life-saving breakthroughs will come about only if adequate funding is made available to advance this area of research, including embryonic stem cells. Since such support is currently not available through the National Institutes of Health because of federal policy restrictions, stem-cell research will only happen if individual states step forward to provide financial support for this initiative. If New York were to join this group, one important result would be to flash a green light to private investors who would, as a result of this initiative, feel more confident in dedicating monetary and in-kind resources for such research in our State.

Further, with the passage of Proposition 71 in California, which commits $3 billion in state dollars to stem-cell research over the next ten years, and with neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut, along with several other states, also allocating millions to such research, New York faces the prospect of a serious competitive disadvantage -- for its citizens, for its scientists and for its medical institutions -- if it does not commit long-term funding to support stem-cell research. It is imperative that our State preserve the scientific assets that it has worked so hard over the years to develop.

Given the difficult fiscal situation that the State is facing, we understand that it may be unrealistic to ask the State to commit to the scale of funding that California has committed. But we can do our part, with confidence, with determination and with a plan that relies on tax revenues outside the mainstream of government funding. We respectfully request your support for a 50-cent increase in the tobacco excise tax in order to provide $100 million for stem-cell research in the FY 2005-06 State Budget. Your leadership will give hundreds of thousands of children and adults the hope of a life free of risk of the pain and affliction that many devastating diseases present to all of us, the young as well as the old. It will also help ensure that New York does not lose the scientific base that is so essential to the maintenance and growth of its prestigious medical institutions.

Sincerely,

Robin Anthony Elliott, Chairman, NYAMR

Gerard Conway, Director, Governmental Affairs, MSSNY

Susan Constantino, Executive Director, CP of NYS

Cc: Senator Johnson Assemblyman Tokasz Senator Skelos Assemblywoman Jacobs Senator Hannon Assemblyman Gottfried Senator Rath Assemblyman Grannis Senator Spano Assemblyman Englebright Senator Marchi Assemblywoman Clark Senator Winner Assemblyman Cahill Senator Golden Assemblyman Nesbitt Assemblywoman O’Connell Assemblyman Oaks

Information on New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) is a proud member of New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research (NYAMR), a coalition of New York State-based disease advocacy groups, university research centers and biotech industry leaders that have assembled to lead a charge to achieve legislation that would affirm and support scientific research involving embryonic stem cells and other DNA therapies.

On March 1st, we staged a lobby day for NYAMR in Albany, our state capital. On that very day, announcements to introduce pro-stem-cell research legislation were heard from State Senator Nick Spano, a Republican, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat. Both bills call for a state appropriation of $100 million in the first year. We are encouraged by the emerging bi-partisan character of the drive but realize that we have a long way to go – especially in the Republican-controlled Senate. PDF urges all New Yorkers to support and join NYAMR’s efforts to allow state funding of important medical research. To see how you can help, please visit www.nyamr.org.

Letter from the Illinois Office of the Comptroller

Dear Friends of Stem Cell Research,

We have moved another step closer to establishing the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute as Senate Bill 2100 passed the Health and Human Services Committee this morning! Yesterday the committee heard compelling testimony from State Comptroller Dan Hynes, State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, and stem cell advocate Jon O'Connor. The committee was also inundated with moving written testimony from many stem cell advocates in favor of this initiative. After reconvening today, the Health and Human Services Committee passed SB 2100 in a 7-4 vote, thus allowing the bill to move forward to the Senate floor for debate. Please spread the word of this exciting new development to all stem cell advocates, and ask them to call and thank their Senators for their important vote.

Senators to Thank:

  • THE HONORABLE MAGGIE CROTTY 5552 ELLEN COURT OAK FOREST, IL 60452-3721 (217) 782-9595 (708) 687-9696 crotty@senatedem.state.il.us
  • THE HONORABLE SUSAN GARRETT 1181 MELODY RD LAKE FOREST, IL 60045-1500 (217) 782-3650 (847) 433-2002 garrett@senatedem.state.il.us
  • THE HONORABLE MATTIE HUNTER 5604 S PRAIRIE AVE, APT 3 CHICAGO, IL 60637-5306 (217) 782-5966 (312) 949-1908 hunter@senatedem.state.il.us
  • THE HONORABLE IRIS MARTINEZ 3912 W BYRON ST APT 2W CHICAGO, IL 60637-5306 (217) 782-8191 (773) 283-7000 martinez@senatedem.state.il.us
  • THE HONORABLE KWAME RAOUL 855 E DREXEL SQUARE CHICAGO, IL 60615 (217) 782-5338 (773) 363-1996
  • THE HONORABLE CAROL RONEN 33 N SHERIDAN RD #7C CHICAGO, IL 60660-3003 (217) 782-8492 (773) 769-1717 ronen@senatedem.state.il.us
  • THE HONORABLE JEFFERY SCHOENBERG 3114 HARTZELL ST EVANSTON, IL 60201-1126 (217) 782-2119 (847) 492-1200 schoenberg@senatedem.state.il.us

Thanks to all for your assistance in making this vote a success!

Illinois Office of the Comptroller

Source Date: Mar 22 2005