Christine Stuart photo

It’s an issue that prevails in all economic climates and in all socioeconomic groups, but it’s not an issue that resonates loudly enough in the hallways of the state Capitol.

At least not until now.

House Speaker Chris Donovan said Friday that he was making domestic violence “a major issue in the next legislative session.” His first step was to create a task force.

The domestic violence task force will make concrete recommendations to the legislature and “the ideas they bring forth may end up becoming law,” he said at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence headquarters in East Hartford.

Domestic violence advocates were recently dealt a blow when the legislature was unable to muster the votes to override one of Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s last vetoes. As a result the Judicial branch is now unable to pay 22 family-violence advocates a total of $270,000 to staff courthouses and offer services to victims throughout the state.

Donovan, who had held out hope of a possible override, conceded the session more than a week ago when he allowed it to adjourn, which wiped all pending business of the calendar.

When asked about the looming budget deficit, Donovan continued to express optimism and shrugged off suggestions that the legislature’s Democratic majority should be working on it. He said Rell needs to achieve the spending cuts proposed in the budget.

He said when people focus on the budget they should be focused on values. “Do we think it’s okay to cut needed programs for women and children?” He said the governor should be focused on cutting out bureaucracy.

“It appears the economy is improving,” Donovan said. “I don’t think panic is ever good.”

“What is the social cost of doing nothing,” Erika Tindill, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said Friday as the question and answer session of the press conference began to drift toward the state budget crisis.

She said she believes the governor shares the same values as those gathered Friday for the event. She said she thinks the governor believes that people deserve to live free of violence, too.

“I am hoping this task force can ignite a new response,” Donovan said.

State Rep. Mae Flexer, D-Danielson, will chair the task force, which will be charged with reviewing budget implications related to domestic violence; identifying trends and research and assembling a set of recommendations on how best to prevent and address family violence and meet the needs of victims.