TALLAHASSEE -- With an impressive list of accomplishments in his first two years as governor, Jeb Bush could be even more influential in the second half of his term as he presides over a government structure that he has molded to suit his goals.
Although Florida has traditionally been considered a weak-governor state in which power is shared with a Cabinet, a strong Legislature and an independent judiciary, Bush has been quietly assuming more control.
He has been aided and abetted by a Republican legislative leadership that has generally acceded to his wishes, if at times reluctantly.
"His quest is to make the governor's position geometrically more powerful than it has ever been," said Senate Majority Leader Jim King of Jack- sonville. "The Legislature has begrudgingly given and given and given."
Bush said the office has always been inherently more powerful than some think.
"I haven't tried to enhance the power," he said. "I've just tried to use it."
And use it he has.
He has tightened control over the budget process, pursued an activist legislative agenda and enthusiastically wielded his veto power.
He battled with judicial nominating commissions, criticized Supreme Court opinions and took the lead in education reforms.
A reorganization approved by the voters will eliminate three of the six Cabinet offices in 2003 and centralize power even more, giving the governor a larger role in education and possibly insurance and …