In a reversal, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl requested that the Pittsburgh City Council cancel the vote on his proposed tax on Pittsburgh college students. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has asked city council to shelve his proposed tuition tax, saying instead that a broad-based “New Pittsburgh Coalition” will work to solve the city’s pension problem.

The mayor is willing to cancel the tuition tax vote that could have occurred today in spite of the fact that he can’t claim to have landed the $15 million-a-year needed to right the pension fund, nor the $5 million compromise demand he made earlier this month. “This is a leap of faith for all of us,” he conceded, but if successful, it will bring the needed funds — hopefully in time for the 2011 budget, when the city will otherwise face a dire fiscal situation.

For students who were already facing skyrocketing tuition and textbook prices, this tax would have been one more obstacle to gaining access to a college education.

For Ravenstahl’s part, this is a political loss (despite it being a good decision) based on his push for this and his subsequent walk-back. He did not manage to secure any additional funding for the city in exchange for retracting the idea, though he did get assurances from Pitt and Carnegie Mellon that they would increase their yearly donation to the city. Ravenstahl must hope, or in his words exhibit “good faith,” that these donations dent the budget deficit he must erase by 2011.

In the end, though, this is a good decision for the future of Pittsburgh’s college students and educational institutions.

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