(Adds quotes, background on budget)
MEXICO CITY, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s 2019 budget will include an additional 4 percent cut to government operations to reverse a proposed reduction to universities so that higher education funding remains at 2018 levels, he said on Wednesday.
Lopez Obrador has defended deep cuts to his budget, arguing that his administration has trimmed wasteful expenditures to allow for priority welfare and infrastructure spending, while reversing course on a proposed 4 billion peso ($200 million) cut to public universities.
Describing the higher education cuts as an “error,” the new president suggested the shortfall could be made up partly with lower funding for his own office, saying he hoped not to spend some 1.5 billion pesos budgeted for the executive.
“The office of the president had a contract to rent vehicles, but it’s been terminated,” Lopez Obrador cited as an example.
“There was a lot of superfluous spending across government ...” he added. ($1 = 19.9997 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)