Food by VICE

Oklahoma Legislator Says Making Ribeye 'Official State Steak' Will Solve Education Crisis

“...Instead of buying chicken fingers for $12, they buy a $57 steak—that’s a net positive.”

by Bettina Makalintal
Apr 5 2019, 7:41pm

Photo: Mike Lang via Getty Images

It’s not easy to make a living as a public school teacher anywhere in the United States, but especially not in Oklahoma, which has been ranked the single lowest-paying state for teachers in the country. That’s why, last year, teachers staged a walkout in protest of their low salaries and an overall lack of education funding. That earned them $50 million more in funding, but teachers have continued to lobby for the cause. Asking for $150 million more, the Oklahoma Education Association demanded a new education budget by April 1. As budgets tend to go, that deadline hasn’t been met.

Which is why legislators were a little confused when, during a House Tourism Committee meeting yesterday morning, Representative Trey Caldwell wanted to spend some time on Senate Bill 21: a bill to make the ribeye Oklahoma’s official state steak. Priorities, people.

Representative Meloyde Blancett asked Caldwell why the topic was worth the committee’s time, given that “we can’t fund public education in a timely manner,” according to the Tulsa World. Caldwell then busted out some logic that one could perhaps call… reaching.

“The sales tax on the steak, for the state of Oklahoma, is approximately 4 percent [actually 4.5 percent],” said Caldwell, who reminded Blancett that he was very “pro-education.” “[Visitors] come into our casinos, they come into our restaurants like Mahogany’s or Cattleman’s or The Ranch, and instead of buying chicken fingers for $12, they buy a $57 steak—that’s a net positive. That gives the state more revenue, so that next year we can have that conversation that me and you probably agree on.”

The bill passed, regardless, and it will go into effect on November 1.

It’s not immediately clear that making something the “official state” anything will boost its sales enormously—Vermont’s state vegetable, for example, is apparently the Gilfeather turnip, and it’s hard to believe that anyone is getting that hyped about turnips. But when it comes to millions of dollars of deficits in education funding, any extra dough can’t hurt. Guess that’s one way to feel better about your meat consumption.