LAO 2005-06 Budget Analysis: General Government

Analysis of the 2005-06 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2005

California Science Center (1100)

The California Science Center (CSC) 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 state-owned parcel just south of the central part of Los Angeles. The CSC's budget includes the costs of operating Exposition Park, the California African American Museum, the Science Center museum, and the Science Center school. The budget proposes to continue current expenditure levels of $19.9 million for 174 positions in 2005-06 for the department, including $14.5 million from the General Fund, $3.8 million from the Exposition Park Improvement Fund, and $1.6 million in reimbursements.

Information on Admission Fee Not Provided

We withhold recommendation on the department's proposed General Fund budget pending receipt and review of the department's report on options for charging an admission fee. The report was not provided to the Legislature by January 15, 2005, as required.

Background. The Science Center museum, which was formerly known as the California Museum of Science and Industry, includes an IMAX movie theatre and exhibits on space, the environment, and the human body. The budget proposes a total of $11.3 million in General Fund spending for the museumó$8.6 million for operational costs and $2.7 million for payment of lease revenue bonds for the facility. The Science Center is the only museum to receive state General Fund dollars of this magnitude on an ongoing basis. 

Admission Fee Could Offset Costs. Over 1.3 million people (including 300,000 students) visit the Science Center each year. Currently, there is no charge for admission. An admission fee for museums like the Science Center is common. For instance, the Exploratorium in San Francisco charges admission of $12 for adults and $8 for youths. The San Francisco Academy of Sciences charges admission of $7 for adults and $5 for youths. For the Science Center, even a fee of a lesser amount (with students admitted free) would provide several millions of dollars in funds for the operation of the facility.

Admission Fee Information Required. In the Analysis of the 2004-05 Budget Bill, we recommended phasing out the Science Center's General Fund budget in place of private donations, admission fees, and other nonstate revenues (please see page F-60 to page F-61). In order for the Legislature to acquire more information regarding admission fees, the 2004-05 budget requires the CSC to provide information by January 15, 2005 detailing options for charging an admission fee to the museum. At the time this analysis was prepared, the department had not submitted the report to the Legislature.

Withhold Recommendation Pending Receipt and Review of Report. Since the Legislature has not received the report, we withhold recommendation on the department's General Fund budget pending receipt and review of the required information.

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