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With money tight, tensions rise in Legislature

The flareups this week between Rep. Juan Zapata and House Speaker Larry Cretul and Sens. Victor Crist and Ken Pruitt exposed small battles that usually remain behind the scenes.

But this isn't a normal session.

There's so little money that lawmakers won't be able to bring the usual political pork back to their districts — usually under the term "member projects'' — once considered a rite of spring in the Legislature. Instead, legislators are going to raise taxes or fees and cut programs to close a $3 billion deficit.

"People have nothing to lose. And that's a dangerous situation for leadership," said Democratic Rep. Ron Saunders, the minority party's budget leader. "There's not much incentive for people to behave." (story here)