July 20, 2015 10:03:58 AM
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who pursued an aggressive agenda when he was Florida's governor for eight years, returns to the state capital on Monday where he plans to outline his top domestic priorities if elected.
The speech on the campus of Florida State University could include some of Bush's most forceful statements to date. In a preview on his campaign website Bush said it's time to challenge what he calls "Mount Washington." When he was governor Bush referred to state government as "Mount Tallahassee."
"We need a president who will not defer to the settled ways of 'Mount Washington,'" states Bush's campaign website. "The overspending, the overreaching, the arrogance and sheer incompetence has been accepted for too long."
It's not surprising that Bush would begin rolling out a series of policies even as the field for president continues to grow. Before he ran for president he constantly urged other Republicans to offer up alternatives to Democratic-backed ideas like President Barack Obama's health care overhaul instead of just opposing them.
The speech also reinforces Bush's attempts to distance himself from the other Washington politicians in the race, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who is also from Florida.
When Bush became governor in 1999 it marked the first time that Republicans had complete control of Florida state government in more than a century. Many GOP leaders, including current FSU President John Thrasher, were eager to work with him on a long line of substantial initiatives, including an overhaul of the state's public school system that remains contentious 15 years after it was first put in place.
Bush, who has been an infrequent visitor to Tallahassee since he left office in 2007, is expected to tout that record as proof of his ability to push forward changes on taxes and spending. His website includes a video mentioning that Bush balanced budgets for eight years and built up billions in reserves while slashing state worker jobs.
The video, however, does not note that Florida requires the state to pass a balanced budget. The reserves cited by Bush also include money that the state won in a landmark settlement reached with the nation's tobacco companies prior to his election.
Bush was able to cut taxes consistently while he was governor because the state's economy tracked upward, part of which was due to a supercharged real estate market that collapsed after he left office.
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