|Budget Issue:||Unallocated reduction of $3.7 million General Fund|
|Program:||California Science Center|
|Finding or Recommendation:||Adopt the Governor’s January budget proposal of an unallocated reduction for the Science Center of $3.7 million General Fund. Support for the Science Center should come from a mix of funding that includes admission fees, private donations, and other non-state revenues. Given the number of annual visitors and other potential revenue sources we believe that the Center could achieve the proposed reduction.|
The California Science Center is an educational, scientific, and technological center administered by a nine-member board of directors appointed by the Governor. It is located in Exposition Park, a 160-acre parcel just south of the central part of Los Angeles, which is owned by the state. The Science Center includes an IMAX movie theatre and exhibits on space, the environment, and the human body. The Science Center’s budget includes the costs of operating Exposition Park, the California African American Museum, and the Science Center museum. The budget proposes expenditures of $28 million for 190 positions in 2011-12, which includes $19.4 million from the General Fund, $6.8 million from the Expositions Park Improvement Fund, and $1.8 million in reimbursements. Admission into the Science Center is free, and it is the only museum in the state to receive General Fund dollars of this magnitude on an ongoing basis.
The Governor’s January budget proposes to reduce General Fund support for the California Science Center by $3.7 million in the budget year and on-going. The budget proposes trailer bill language to allow the Science Center to establish an admissions fee to offset this reduction. The Science Center would continue to receive $19.4 million in General Fund support including $4.8 million to pay debt service for Phase I and II of the Science Center expansion.
In 2005, the Science Center completed an admissions fee study. The report concluded that charging an admissions fee would result in lower attendance; the reduction in attendance would increase as the fee increased. Based on our own analysis of the impact of a fee increase, we believe that a modest fee could be imposed, such as $5 for adults and $3 for children. Our analysis indicates that the imposition of such a fee would reduce attendance somewhat, but still enable the Science Center to achieve the proposed General Fund reduction. In addition, the Science Center could generate revenue or reduce costs by taking other actions such as charging for the right to film on location, renegotiating its lease, increasing parking fees, or increasing fees for third party rentals of the facility.
We recommend that the Legislature adopt the Governor’s January budget proposal of an unallocated reduction for the Science Center of $3.7 million General Fund. Support for the Science Center should come from a mix of funding that includes admission fees, private donations, and other non-state revenues. Given the number of annual visitors and other potential revenue sources we believe that the Center could achieve the proposed reduction.