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State Initiative Seeks Funding for Biomedical Research

The initiative would call for the state to issue up to $200 million in bonds over the next 10 years

By Dillon Tabish

HELENA — Wording for an initiative that would issue as much as $200 million in bonds for Montana-based biomedical research has been approved, meaning officials can begin gathering signatures.

Montanans for Research and Cures can now begin collecting the 24,175 signatures needed to qualify the initiative for the Nov. 8 ballot, according to The Great Falls Tribune.

The initiative would call for the state to issue up to $200 million in bonds over the next 10 years. The funds would go to research into brain diseases and disorders and mental illnesses including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, addictive disorders and schizophrenia.

“This initiative provides hope for hundreds of thousands of Montanans suffering from brain diseases and disorders — and their families — by creating an innovative, smart and common-sense strategy that builds on world-class research already occurring in Montana and will create many new jobs and new treatments,” said Randy Gray, board member on the McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences and campaign treasurer.

Grants funded by this measure would be awarded to Montana researchers and institutions. Annual financial audits would be required.

Organizers must collect the signatures and file them with the state by July 15.

Bob Story, a former state lawmaker who is now executive director of the Montana Taxpayers Association, said the initiative is an uncommon route for a bond being passed. He said most bond initiatives are local and he isn’t sure if the state Constitution allows voters to appropriate money.

“(The Montana Taxpayers Association) wouldn’t support statewide bonding, especially for research. It’s a risky proposition we would not get a cash flow return on it,” Story said.

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