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Croci boycotts Cuomo briefings, says guv should publicly rollout budget

ALBANY -- A Long Island senator is one of the first to go public in boycotting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s private rollout of the 2017-18 state budget, saying it’s inappropriate.

“I thought we were trying to more transparent -- after the last three years of history here -- not less,” Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville) said Tuesday, referring to recent state-government corruption scandals.

Cuomo, as relations with the Legislature sour, is eschewing the customary public unveiling and budget speech of his proposed spending plan. Instead, he has invited the 213 legislators to visit the executive mansion in blocs for “private briefings” beginning at noon Tuesday. Some lawmakers privately have said they won’t attend such a controlled presentation.

Croci issued a statement before the first slated briefing, saying the Democrat governor isn’t being transparent with the public.

“There’s nothing wrong with the governor giving legislators an opportunity to talk with him privately about their budget concerns, but it should be done after a public presentation and in accordance with his constitutional responsibilities,” Croci said.

In a follow-up conversation, Croci referred to recent corruption scandals that have hit the Senate and Assembly, as well as Cuomo’s inner circle, and said the budget process should be more open, not less.

“The most transparent way to present the budget is through a public process, as quickly as possible,” the Republican said. “To try to short-circuit that process smacks of heading in the wrong direction and not the kind of transparent process our residents expect.”

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