A conservative republican who may run for Governor says it’s time to find out how much the state’s spending on “affirmative action” programs. Senator Steve King, a republican from Kiron, says the cost may outweigh the benefits. King would eventually like to do away with hiring and recruiting practices which seek minorities for state jobs. King says the American public does not understand the cost of affirmative action programs. He says there is another cost as well – hiring someone based on criteria other than merit. Democrat Representative Wayne Ford of Des Moines, the only black member of the legislature, says he’ll fight King on this. He says ridding Iowa of affirmative action programs only closes the door to minority growth.King recently offered an amendment to a budget bill, asking for a study of how much state affirmative action programs cost. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a democrat from Iowa City, challenged King. Bolkcom says it still has an important purpose in Iowa – to ensure that the state is hiring qualified women and ethnic groups. King’s amendment was defeated, but he vows to bring the issue up again.