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Blagojevich again directs stem cell money

Gov. Rod Blagojevich (UPI file photo/Bill Greenblatt)
Gov. Rod Blagojevich (UPI file photo/Bill Greenblatt)

By Illinois Public Radio

Springfield, Ill. – A day after President Bush vetoed a measure to increase federal funds on stem cell research, Gov. Rod Blagojevich Thursday announced he'll put Illinois money towards it. It was the second time he's made the move without approval from the General Assembly.

Blagojevich had proposed spending $100 million on embryonic stem cell research over the next five years. But the legislature never voted on the idea, presumably because there weren't enough votes for it to pass.

So, Thursday the governor issued an executive order, directing $5 million of the budget be given out to fund the controversial research.

His spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff says Blagojevich made the decision in reaction to President George Bush's veto of a measure that would have put federal dollars towards such research.

Blagojevich used a similar tactic last year, when he issued an order creating a grant program. Many lawmakers were surprised by the action, as the legislature had voted against spending taxpayer money towards embryonic stem cell studies.

The Republican nominee for Governor, Judy Baar Topinka, says she also supports public funding of the research. But campaign spokesman John McGovern says Topinka feels elected legislators deserve a say in the matter.

Blagojevich says it's appropriate to circumvent the legislature because sick people hoping for a cure shouldn't have to wait for a stalemate to end.

According to the governor's office, the grants will be given to researchers who applied for grant money this year but weren't selected.