For the third year, Governor Jay Nixon is restricting money from higher education.

Governor Jay Nixon

The Governor announced on Friday $15 million in cuts that he called a first step in righting a budget he says is more than $50 million out of balance. The largest single item in that is a one percent across-the-board reduction for the state’s colleges and universities, equaling nearly $9 million.

When asked why higher education is again the target for restrictions, Nixon points to other places where higher education is benefitting, including adding $40 million dollars to higher education through a governor’s amendment.

“The bottom line is that I appreciate the fine work that our universities are doing,” he says. “A one percent restriction when you compare that to what we’ve seen around the country … it’s what we can do in the constraints of the budget we have.”

The cut to higher education equals about $4 million to the University of Missouri System.

See our earlier story on the budget withholds, including a video of the announcement.

The Governor says the cuts are needed because the legislature is banking too much on lottery revenues increasing by $35 million, because lawmakers cut $11 million from disaster relief funds when the state still owes money for cleanup after last year’s disasters and because three pieces of legislature that haven’t yet been acted on could reduce state revenue by $12.5 million.

He says he hopes an economic turnaround will mean that no more withholds will be necessary.