When Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes proposed creating a $1 billion state-funded institute for stem-cell research modeled on a California initiative, he was thinking about the economic development as well as the clinical implications, he said.
Hynes noted that officials in California, which recently approved a $3 billion bond issue for stem-cell research, estimated that state's initiative would leverage up to $4.4 billion in private-sector investments and create 5,000 to 22,000 jobs.
Under the Illinois plan, money to fund the research would come from the proceeds of $100 million, 25-year bonds issued each year for 10 years. The plan calls for legislation to be presented next year to the Illinois General Assembly, putting the initiative on the ballot for a referendum vote in November 2006, Hynes said.
But Illinois plastic surgeons are less than thrilled with the plan, which calls for bond payments to be made from the proceeds of a 6% tax on charges for elective plastic surgery procedures.
Hynes said he estimated more than $250 million was spent on elective cosmetic surgery procedures in Illinois last year, enough to generate $15 million in taxes the first year.
Hynes said he singled out elective plastic surgery because it is health-related, optional and progressive.
In a news release, Scott Spear, M.D., president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, called the tax plan "distressing on many levels."
"It's frightening to think that lawmakers now feel entitled to tax patients who choose or need surgery," he said. "The idea that the Legislature will decide whose operation is politically acceptable and whose deserves to be taxed is scary."