What's An Impressionable Midwestern State To Do?

Inspiration: The Midwestern states cover a wide range of political direction -- from the still-burning progressive spirit of Minnesota, to the Koch-fueled small-government inferno of Kansas. This year, Kansas faced another year of $100+ million budget shortfalls but voted to allow guns in schools, hospitals, and mental health facilities. Minnesota, however, generated a $1.65 billion budget surplus and moved water quality issues forward. Iowa has often been caught in the middle. What to do? We imagine Iowa's internal struggle for the newest episode of RAYGUN THEATRE.

Scene: A seedy alley behind the local Applebee's. MISSOURI, KANSAS, and ALEC have skipped a sensibly-priced, low-calorie, yet full-flavored dinner inside the restaurant, and are instead smoking cigarettes. 

KS: Fuckin' Supreme Court is busting my ass about under-funding public schools. 

MO (taking a long drag from his Marlboro Red): Shiiiiiiit.

KS: They said I owed, like, $500 million. I was like, I'm Kansas, you can't tell me SHIT.

MO: Wow. 

KS: But then they were like, Constitution, separation of powers, legal obligations. Blah blah blah blah blah. 

MO: Don't tread on me!!! 

KS: So I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, I'll adequately fund schools. Sure.' Then I only agreed to give them, like, $200 million. 

The group laughs. KANSAS reaches over and tries to grab a company from MISSOURI. 

MO (slapping his hand away): Hey, man, fuck off! That's my company!  

KS: It's a free market! I've got tax incentives! 

IOWA emerges from inside the Applebee's and walks up casually. 

IA: Hey guys, you missed the 2 for $20 special inside. The chicken's extra juicy today! 

KANSAS, MISSOURI and ALEC all act a little cool and aloof. 

KS: Nah, man, dinner's not really our THING.

IA: Oh, okay. 

MO (kind of smirking and looking over at KANSAS): So, Hawkeye, still adequately funding your state institutions?

KS (under it's breath): Like a little bitch. 

The group kind of chuckles, IOWA looks a little embarrassed. 

IA: NO! We only gave schools a small increase this year, then tried to take away their 1% sales tax for facilities. OH, and, and, we were, like, over $100 million in the hole this year because of economic mis-management! 

KS (taking a drag and exhaling): That's cute. I remember my first $100 million deficit. Like, 8 YEARS AGO! 

KANSAS and MISSOURI high five. 

KS: I was down over $200 million this year, before the school thing. And I'm gonna be another $1 BILLION short over the next two years. 

IA: Well, I didn't let cities set their own minimum wage. 

MO: Pfff, I met in special session, like, 2 years ago to prevent cities from setting their own minimum wage. 

IA: Well I'M letting people carry guns the capitol! 

MO: I'M letting people carrying concealed weapons WITHOUT a permit. 

KS: Oh yeah? I'M letting people carrying guns in mental hospitals, regular hospitals, and schools! 

MO: Daaaammmnnnn...... guns in mental hospitals? 

ALEC nods. Kansas confidently blows smoke toward MISSOURI and IOWA. 

IA: Well, I left a lot on the table this year! I'm gonna remove permit requirements on guns NEXT year. 

KS: Yeah right. 

MO: You're chicken. (Flapping his arms) Bok-bok-bok-bok-bok-bok.

IA: I am NOT chicken! My state is gonna be TWICE as mismanaged as yours, just you wait and see! 

MO: Oh, I'm SOOO scared. 

KS: You know Missouri has the biggest fireworks and the cheapest smokes in town, Iowa, don't even--

KANSAS cuts short as MINNESOTA starts to approach. MISSOURI and KANSAS kind of look away, mumbling something. 

MN: Hi-ya guys! Kansas and Show-Me, you missed the 2 for $20 inside. Boy, Applebee's sure does hit the spot sometimes. (Then, seeing ALEC). Oh, hi, Alec. Saw some of your bills this year. They were, uhhh, INTERESTING.

ALEC kind of looks away. 

MN: So, I was just gonna go spend part of my $1 billion surplus on the arts or an environmental initiative. Anyone wanna join me? 

MISSOURI and KANSAS look away, kind of going "Pffff."

IA (a little sheepishly): No, I'm good.

MN: Really? I thought you said you wanted to come along. 

IA: No, I, uh ...... I don't HAVE a budget surplus. 

MN: Really? Didn't you have one just a couple years ago?

IA: Yeah.

MN: Where did it go?

IA: Corporate giveaways and property tax reform. 

MN: Oh ...... I see.

IA (a little more embarrassed): I tell people it's because of low corn prices.

MN: Low corn prices? But you're a mixed Midwestern economy like me, and I have plenty of money. No one's gonna believe that excuse. 

IA: I ..... I know. 

KS: Hey, budget surpluses are for pussies. 

MISSOURI snickers, MINNESOTA looks up, narrows his eyes, and nods his head slowly. 

MN: Well ... I see. (Looking at MISSOURI and KANSAS). So you're staying here, Iowa?

IA: Yeah, I'll hang out here for a minute. I mean, maybe I'll go fishing with you sometime.

MN (nodding slowly): Yeah, yeah ... maybe we'll go fishing. 

There's an awkward silence. 

MN: Well, see you fellas later. 

MINNESOTA turns and walks down the alley. The scene goes dark