Last autumn in the 80-year-old elementary school in Center, a teacher heard a startling crash.
It didn't take long to figure out what it was, because it's happened before - falling plaster smashing onto the false
ceiling. Last year, a big piece broke off and punched through the false ceiling, landing in the classroom.
There are many Coloradans who blame Douglas Bruce for this.
Bruce - a former El Paso County commissioner and state representative - wrote the most important law passed in
Colorado this generation. He called it the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR.
TABOR has two basic parts: It limits government spending, and it gives citizens the right to vote on tax increases.
Colorado stands alone on TABOR, despite attempts to export it to other states. Maine voters rejected it in November.
Small-government activists say Bruce's amendment has saved Colorado from economic ruin.
But TABOR is under assault by critics, who say it blocks investments in schools and roads that keep the economy
State legislators of both parties have found ways around it from the start in 1993. Gov. Bill Ritter wants to pursue
a ballot question in 2011 that might rewrite the amendment.
Finally, it's possible this debate will end not at the ballot box but in a Denver courtroom. That crumbling ceiling
in Center has a lot to do with the reason why.