House Democratic leaders met Monday to express their opposition to a bill that would give government vouchers for private school tuition.

Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, said Democratic leadership is concerned that the legislation will give money to private schools while public education remains underfunded.

"It goes against the grain about what we should be doing in the state," he said.

In addition, Minority Whip Brad King, D-Price, said the estimated $500 -$3,000 vouchers would reinforce socioeconomic disparities because it is not enough to cover the entire cost of a private education.

Rather, the voucher money "would only benefit those on the edge of affording it anyway," he said.

King also raised concerns that the legislation would face a legal battle over whether it violates the standard of separation of church and state. King said he predicts much of the debate over the voucher bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, will center around this constitutional question of whether the money is a direct or indirect aid to religious schools.

King added that he expects the bill to fail this year as in past sessions.