Republicans have been saying they want job creation and balancing the budget to be the top priorities of the legislative session.



 DFL State Rep. Ryan Winkler wants them to prove it.

On Thursday, Winkler sent Republican House Majority Leader Matt Dean a letter asking for a hearing on a DFL proposal to ensure the Legislature formally sets the budget as its top priority this session. Republicans rejected the idea Tuesday, angering some Democrats when they referred the measure to a committee instead.

Winkler and other Democrats worry that Republicans are poised to unveil a bunch of legislation or constitutional amendments on social issues, like abortion, gay marriage and photo identification for voters. Republicans insisted during the campaign those issues were not the state’s top priorities, but such issues are often very popular with the conservatives who get them elected.

Winkler asked Dean to set a hearing date for the proposal to ensure legislators focus on creating jobs and balancing the budget.

With more than 200,000 people unemployed and the state facing a $6.2 billion deficit, “we should not spend our time debating divisive social issues and constitutional amendments,” Winkler wrote in the letter.

At the time, Dean said there was nothing sinister about sending the proposal to committee. Republicans, who just took control of the House this year, didn’t want to hastily approve a measure without more deliberation, Dean said.

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