As national headlines have trumpeted California's budgetary meltdown and the resulting slashing of state services during the past year, the state's beleaguered bottom line remains the political elephant in the room of the 2010 governor's race.
Only two of the five Republican and Democratic candidates - Campbell and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, also a Republican, have tackled in any detail the most daunting challenge on California's "to do" list - its chronic budget woes.
Campbell, a former South Bay congressman who was the state's finance director from 2004 to 2005, said he understands the problems with communicating such a complex problem to a mass audience.
But it's imperative to make it clear that the financial "shell game" to balance California's budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in June, has sent the state barreling toward a new financial abyss, Campbell said this week in San Francisco.
In July, the Legislature patched most of a $24 billion deficit by making deep cuts to services while avoiding new taxes.
Campbell, who had already released a 30-page budget plan, updated his proposal this week, arguing that the state could save $8 billion to $13 billion a year - and erase its coming deficit- by purchasing private health insurance for its neediest residents.
That plan would be cheaper than the $42 billion the state now spends on the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs.
Poizner also released a plan this week to help fix the state's budget problems. His proposal, with a 4,000-word prologue, would cut taxes - personal income taxes, the state sales tax and corporation taxes - by 10 percent, cut state spending by 10 percent and create a $10 billion rainy-day fund.