New Jersey Governor James McGreevey signed into law on Wednesday legislation that will create the nation’s first state-supported stem cell research facility. New Jersey joins California as the only two states to provide funding for stem cell research. Gov. McGreevey plans to have the state fund $6.5 million each year for the next five years, and counts on $3.5 million each year from private sources, according to the Star-Ledger. Research on embryonic stem cells could hold the key to cures for such degenerative diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, as well as spinal cord injuries, cancer, and heart disease. At a bill-signing ceremony at a hospital in New Brunswick, NJ, Gov. McGreevey was surrounded by spinal injury victims and their families. “This isn’t an abstract academic debate É People are suffering today, and what we offer them is hope,” said McGreevey, according to the New York Times. In 2001, President Bush forbade federal funding to support any research that would create new embryonic stem cell lines. Scientists argue that with only 15 cell lines available, the ban on federal funding is severely delaying potential medical breakthroughs, the Times reports. Anti-abortion advocates and the Catholic Church are fighting any move to fund research that will create new stem cell lines.