Stem cell chairman to step down at end of term

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Bob Klein, chairman of California’s  stem cell agency oversight board, plans to step down at the end of his six-year term in 2010.

He made his plans clear during a meeting of the board’s Finance Committee Thursday. Klein noted that including his involvement in writing and campaigning for Proposition 71 that created the agency he "will have spent eight years on the endeavor cumulatively."

Until December 2008 Klein declined a salary for his position as chairman of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC). He started drawing a salary of $150,000 then.  The amount is based on the board’s decision that the post is considered a half-time job.

John Robson, vice president for operations, outlined the proposed budget for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which would go into effect July 1.  The proposed total is $12.98 million, a 3 percent decrease from the approved 2008-2009 budget of $13.37 million.  Currently the actual 2008-2009 expenditures are running about 20 percent below the approved budget.

The meeting lacked a quorum so the committee could not take formal action.  CIRM President Alan Trounson did not attend.

Committee members suggested that before the budget is presented to the ICOC for approval next week, comparisons with this fiscal year’s projected actual expenses should be included. They also asked for greater detail and backup in the various budget categories.

Robson said that with the recent infusion of cash from a public state bond sale, the agency now has sufficient money to fund planned grants and operations through the end of 2010, perhaps a little longer.

Klein noted that CIRM still has authority to privately place $160 million in bonds, rather than sell then on the open market.  He predicted that California’s economic uncertainty could linger into 2011, making  a public bond sale difficult.  Klein suggested that a private placement might come at "the end of this year or the beginning of the next so that you have the funding before I leave."

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