Texas Cancer-fighting Agency Faces Uncertain Future as Lawmakers Prepare for New Session

Texas voters enlisted in a major offensive to fight cancer a dozen years ago, authorizing $3 billion in taxpayer-funded grants for research and prevention and vaulting the state to a leading national role in paying for such efforts.With the money now running low, the call to re-enlist could come as early as this fall.The state agency charged with distributing the grants -- the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, commonly known as CPRIT -- estimates that it only has enough funding authority left to last the next couple of fiscal years, setting the stage for a debate over the fate of the anti-cancer effort during the Legislature's upcoming session, which begins Tuesday.Already, proposals have been filed that sketch two divergent futures for CPRIT. One plan seeks a new referendum this November in which voters would be asked to approve an additional $3 billion in bonds for CPRIT to keep funding grants, while another would mandate that the agency devise a strategy for self-sufficiency with no new state money.State Rep. John Zerwas, who has filed the resolution calling for the statewide vote, said continued taxpayer support for CPRIT is needed to sustain the momentum generated by the initial state investment.  Continue reading...

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