Last year, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein was the fourth man in the room.

Now, even though it appears he could be excluded from the closed-door budget talks featuring the state’s top legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Klein says the practice isn’t necessarily detrimental as long as the leaders advocate on behalf of their conferences.

“Legislators elect leaders and those leaders then advocate on behalf of their members,” Klein said at a news conference today. “A leader who is worth their salt listens to their members and builds consensus and negotiates a position. I don’t think just the three men in a room negotiating for their members is necessarily a bad thing.”

His comments come after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara criticized and mocked the structure of the closed-door budget talks, which he likened to a sitcom.

Thanks to Bharara’s office arresting Sheldon Silver, though, the three men this year will include a new member: Speaker Carl Heastie, the first black lawmaker to lead the Assembly.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, certainly, as citizens of the state of New York,” Klein said of Bharara’s criticism.

The private talks have been criticized by good-government watchdogs for adding to the lack of sunlight surrounding the state’s budget process over the decades.

Klein himself was included in the talks last year after he was elevated to the post of co-president of the Senate under the power-sharing agreement that was altered this year when Republicans gained full control of the chamber.