California's stem cell research agency says it needs billions more taxpayer dollars to deliver on promised cures to major diseases. Yet at a time when other departments are cutting back spending, the agency recently agreed to pay its new boss one of the highest salaries in state government. The 50-person grant-making body will pay a Los Angeles investment banker $400,000 to serve as its new part-time board chairman, pushing the combined salaries of its two top officials to nearly $1 million per year. Santa Monica-based Saybrook Capital founder Jonathan Thomas — chosen over a former cardiologist who was willing to take the job for less than half the salary — said his pay is "reasonable" because he has the background to help the agency raise the money it needs to survive. "Without funding, everything else suffers," Thomas said.