PITTSBURGH Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced a deal Monday between city government and local universities that effectively kills his proposal to tax college tuition.

That's good news, since taxing tuition was a terrible idea. But it's also good because the agreement gets bigger contributions from local universities and nonprofits - often called Payments in Lieu of Taxes - to pay for city services.

In Philadelphia, the city has tried to strike a balance between collecting money from these untaxed organizations and trying to keep the burden relatively low. But colleges, universities and nonprofits also consume a lot of city services that need to be paid for. The deal in Pittsburgh might be a framework that could also apply locally.

There is another part of the Pittsburgh deal that might be worth copying. The mayor and local universities have agreed to team up to lobby Harrisburg for more funding for higher education.

Given how important universities and colleges are to the fabric of Philadelphia life, that seems like a worthwhile effort that could use some support on our side of the state. *