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Crist on Obama's embryonic stem decision

Gov. Charlie Crist -- who grabbed headlines during his 2006 gubernatorial campaign for saying he opposed then-President George W. Bush's stance against on embryonic stem cell research -- weighed in President Barack Obama's decision on Monday to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

"Science is awfully important," Crist said. "If we can learn more to save lives, that's a good thing."

But state money for stem cell research? maybe not, said Crist.

"We're in a crunch as it is right now,'' he said. "But whatever we can do to save lives I'm for.''

In past years, efforts to funnel state money into embryonic stem cell research programs have failed, with opponents citing moral concerns and the federal funding ban.

House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands, of Weston, said despite the rough budget year, he would like to see the state give stem cell research money to scientific institutes like Torrey Pines, Scripps and the Max Planck Society. Sands, a longtime supporter of stem cell research, said the state funds could help attract additional private investments for embryonic stem cell research.

"Ideally, what I would like to see is some state funding to come down that could act
as seed money,'' Sands said.

However, any push to provide state funding for embryonic stem cell research would likely face two major obstacles: the state's large budget deficit and opposition from socially conservative Republicans in the Florida House.

Rep. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican and House deputy majority leader, said Monday that she opposed using state money for embryonic stem cell research.

"I don't think it's necessary or for someone to create life in order to destroy life,''
Flores said. "And when we have finite resources and tax dollars, whether it be at the
federal or the state level, we should put our focus on adult stem cell research that can
yield immediate results.''