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Actress Geena Davis has supporting role in state budget drama

January 18, 2012 |  2:14 pm


Actress Geena Davis once played the president of the United States on TV, but now she is testing her powers of persuasion in the real political arena.

Davis, an Academy Award winner, joined a group of lawmakers Wednesday in arguing for the sparing of the California Commission on the Status of Women, which Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to eliminate in response to the current budget crunch.

"The commission is the only entity, public or private, looking at the big picture for women, from issues of equal pay and employment, to veterans affairs and domestic violence, to education and immigration," Davis said in a statement issued as other high-profile backers of the panel stepped up their lobbying for it to be maintained.

Brown, who reappointed Davis to the commission, had cut the panel’s $465,000 annual budget in half last year, but proposed elimination of its funding in the budget year beginning July 1. The cuts mean the panel will have to shut its doors in April unless it is granted a reprieve, said Alexandra Gleysteen, a veteran television producer who is chairwoman of the commission.

"We are going to agitate on our end to be re-funded," said Gleysteen. The group has even tried to make an appeal to the governor’s wife, Anne Gust Brown, but she has not responded.

The panel has some sympathetic ears in the Legislature, which could try to restore its funding. The commission includes six state legislators, including state Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), chairwoman of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. Evans said women "have been historically underrepresented'' and "undervalued" by government. "That history can’t be eliminated and neither should the Commission on the Status of Women."


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-- Patrick McGreevy, reporting from Sacramento

Photo: Geena Davis, who starred in "Commander in Chief,'' is asking that the California Commission on the Status of Women be spared from budget cuts. Credit: Kent Eanes/ ABC