Gov. Cuomo, Top Lawmakers Begin Budget Talks

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -

New York’s governor and three top lawmakers have begun the annual series of closed-door budget talks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo met Wednesday afternoon with Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos as well as Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of a small breakaway faction of Senate Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference.

The meeting was the first of what’s likely to be several such gatherings, traditionally known as the “three men in a room” who negotiate the details of the state budget.

Cuomo said Klein was included because his faction’s support may prove critical for passing the spending plan.

Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who leads the Senate’s Democratic minority, was not invited. She criticized the process and says the leaders of all legislative factions should be included.