Lawmakers will decide soon whether Tennessee becomes the 14th state to allow taxpayer money to pay for tuition at private K-12 schools.

The voucher issue is one of the most heated facing the General Assembly. Passage is not guaranteed but legislative leaders say the fight is over how expansive a voucher program will be -- who's eligible and who's not -- just as it was last year when a voucher bill failed over fierce skirmishing about which students should qualify.

Vouchers let parents use state and local taxpayer money dedicated to public schools on a per-pupil basis to pay tuition at private schools of their choice. The National Conference of State Legislatures says 13 states plus the District of Columbia have some form of state-funded voucher programs, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina in the South.

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