Karen DeWitt

Capitol Bureau Correspondent, Albany

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now.  She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers. 

Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.

She is a past recipient of the prestigious Walter T. Brown Memorial award for excellence in journalism, from the Legislative Correspondents Association, and was named Media Person of the Year for 2009 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

Karen is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Ways to Connect

New York State Senate

New York State Senate Democrats now have 32 votes in the chamber, which under normal circumstances would mean they hold the majority.

But in the state Senate, it’s more complicated than that.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pressuring state lawmakers to come back in December for a special session that includes a number of reform items to address recent corruption scandals.

In exchange, he said, they could potentially be rewarded with a pay raise.

Cuomo is trying to convince state lawmakers to return to the Capitol before the end of the year to hold a special session. The governor is seeking some reforms, including changes to the state’s procurement process for contracts, saying he wants a “tighter system.”

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Indictments are due by Wednesday in an economic development corruption scandal involving Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide and other former associates. The governor has been active in recent days on other matters, including taking steps to counteract a rise in hate crimes after the election of Donald Trump as president.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Will there be a special session of the legislature this December? Gov. Andrew Cuomo is offering lawmakers an incentive to come back to meet — a possible pay raise, in exchange for ethics reforms.

Matt Ryan / WMHT

Recommendations on how to go forward with some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development contracts tainted by scandal are expected to be out soon, according to the governor’s economic development chairman.

Buffalo businessman and Empire State Development Chairman Howard Zemsky is trying to pick up the pieces after nine criminal complaints were issued against two former Cuomo associates, including a top former aide, along with the former head of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, who oversaw the contracts for the Buffalo Billion and other projects.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is adopting a more conciliatory tone toward President-elect Donald Trump, after Cuomo called Trump “un-New York” in the final days of the campaign.

Cuomo, in the final days of the campaign, stumped for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in New York state, and heavily criticized Donald Trump.

“In truth, Trump is un-New York,” Cuomo said. “Everything the man stands for is the exact opposite that this state stands for.”

Trump, like Cuomo is a Queens native.

Wallyg / Flickr

If the numbers hold, Republicans are poised to remain in control of the New York State Senate, and even pick up a seat.

The news has reassured business groups but dismayed reform advocates. If the election results hold, Republicans will have the numerical majority when the Senate reconvenes in January.

New York State Senate

Democrats had hoped to make inroads into the New York State Senate. But preliminary results show the Republicans gaining one seat to hold a razor-thin 32-seat majority.

Despite a corruption scandal among Republicans on Long Island, incumbent GOP senators apparently kept their seats, and won an open seat formerly held by a Republican.

In close races in the Hudson Valley, GOP candidates also held on, and in a western New York swing district that includes portions of the Buffalo area, Republicans took the post back from Democrats.

Columbia City Blog / Flickr

New York is poised to elect Hillary Clinton for president and give Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) a fourth term, but down-ballot races for Congress and state Senate are less certain.

kristen_a / Flickr

A final poll in the long presidential race shows the contest tightening a bit in New York state, though Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton still leads Republican Donald Trump by double digits.

Siena College spokesman Steve Greenberg says while Clinton is still 17 points ahead of Trump in New York state, she’s lost ground in the past few weeks among independents.

He says Clinton and Trump are now tied among independents in the downstate suburbs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

If the state Senate is controlled by Democrats after the election, taxing and spending policies could see some differences. Many Democrats favor extending an income tax surcharge on millionaires when it expires next spring.

New York currently has a temporary income tax surcharge on the wealthy. The additional taxes affect those making more than $300,000 a year, with the rates growing higher for incomes over $1 million, and the highest rate for $2 million or more.

New York State Senate

There’s a greater chance than ever that the New York State Senate could be dominated by Democrats after the Nov. 8 election, meaning many issues stalled in the Republican-led Senate for years would have a possibility of passing. The Assembly has long been controlled by Democrats, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a Democrat.

Campaign finance reform, the Dream Act — which offers college tuition support to the children of undocumented immigrants — and more money for underperforming schools are just a few items that might be approved under a Senate controlled by Democrats.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said one of the reasons he is actively campaigning for Democrats to take over the New York State Senate is that he believes he will have more success getting ethics changes done without the GOP in charge.

Cuomo, who’s been holding rallies for Democratic candidates in key Senate races, said he thinks a legislature controlled by Democrats will be more willing to approve changes to address a wave of scandals plaguing state government.

NY Times/Nathaniel Brooks

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), in the only debate with his opponent, said he’s “appalled” by FBI director James Comey’s actions, including  the decision announced Friday to re- examine emails from Hillary Clinton’s top aide for evidence of misuse of classified materials.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

It looks like Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) will be re-elected to a fourth term on Nov. 8, barring any major turn of events. He’s about 40 points ahead of his nearest opponent in the polls and the bigger question now is: will Schumer be the next Senate minority leader or majority leader?

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hillary Clinton’s widening lead over Donald Trump is likely to affect downballot races for Congress, where there are several contested seats, and for control of the state Senate in New York, where Republicans are barely clinging to the majority.

As recently as the summer, when the presidential candidates were tied in the polls, leading New York Republicans predicted that the state would be in play for Trump — and that he could even help get downballot GOP candidates for Congress and the state Legislature elected.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a step deeper into the partisan politics of the state Senate on Tuesday night, telling two Democratic factions that they’ll have to work together if the November elections go their way.

Cuomo, long an ally of Republicans in the Senate, for the first time headlined a major fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. He told them that he can no longer rely on Senate Republicans to approve key issues like the Dream Act for children of undocumented immigrants and a reform package that limits campaign contributions.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

After several years of budget surpluses, New York state tax revenue is coming in at a lower-than-expected rate.

That could affect big-ticket programs like school aid and health care as well as a multi-year tax cut planned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators.

Income tax collections are down nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars from what Cuomo’s budget division projected in April, at the start of the state’s fiscal year.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

With less than three weeks before Election Day, Hillary Clinton is even further ahead of Donald Trump in New York state, and that could affect downballot races, including seats for the state Senate.

Clinton is 24 points ahead of Trump, at 54 percent to 30 percent, a jump from when Siena College did a survey in September. Spokesman Steve Greenberg said the biggest change is independents moving over to the Democratic presidential candidate’s camp. A two-point lead among independents for Clinton has grown to a 17-point lead.

PNI / Flickr

Pipeline companies are not having a lot of success in New York so far in 2016; opponents say they are dirty and continue New York’s over reliance on fossil fuels. Two projects have already been canceled. But a pipeline company representative says the projects are not as harmful as opponents say, and essential for the state’s current electric needs.

Until recently, expanding and building pipelines was not terribly controversial, as most people agreed that there was a common need to transport oil and gas for fuel and electricity.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

State lawmakers with disabled children, along with people with developmental disabilities and their caregivers, rallied Monday at the state Capitol for more money in the budget to pay caregivers a living wage. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature approved a gradual minimum wage increase to $15 an hour downstate and $12.50 an hour upstate, saying mega-companies like McDonald’s and Burger King can afford to pay their workers more.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Reform groups say in light of the criminal charges against some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former associates, there are a number of changes that should be made to stop more corruption in the future.

The federal charges of bid-rigging and bribery center on Cuomo’s key economic development programs, including the Buffalo Billion.

New York State Senate

Democrats in New York are trying to keep the heat on Republicans running for office over the coarse remarks made by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in a leaked video.

Every day since Friday’s release of the tape — where Donald Trump disparages women in a crude manner — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has slammed Trump. And he’s urged New York Republicans to disassociate themselves from the top of their ticket.

“They should stand up and say, ‘I’m a Republican, but I’m a New Yorker first,’” Cuomo said. “‘And we’ll have nothing to do with the degradation of women.’”

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The beleaguered head of SUNY Polytechnic Institute has formally resigned from his post after being placed on leave without pay following criminal charges from state and federal officials.

Alain Kaloyeros, who is accused of helping to engineer bribery and kickback schemes involving state contracts for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs, on Monday sent State University officials a letter of resignation from his post as president of SUNY Polytechnic. The letter was first made public Tuesday.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is keeping the heat on New York Republicans to disown Donald Trump after the GOP presidential candidate’s coarse remarks about women revealed in a video over the weekend.

Cuomo said he does not think Trump turned around his troubled candidacy in Sunday night’s debate performance and, for the third day in arrow, called on New York Republicans to reject their party’s presidential nominee.

“They should stand up and say ‘I’m a Republican, but I’m a New Yorker first,’” Cuomo said. “‘And we’ll have nothing to do with the degradation of women.'”

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is one of many Democrats condemning Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his newly-released statements in 2005, where he spoke of women in vulgar terms, and described actions that many view as sexual assault.

“This was a disrespectful, sexist, derogatory statement about all women, and it should be condemned,” Cuomo said, speaking after a briefing on an accident on the Long Island Railroad Sunday.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, speaking Thursday at a panel on corruption in state government at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, took a shot at some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's actions.

Bharara, without mentioning Cuomo by name, seemed to criticize the governor’s actions. He said with the recent crime wave sweeping state government that’s led to Bharara’s successful prosecution of the former leaders of the Legislature, some recent actions have been inappropriate.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Some environmental groups say Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration should reconsider an $8 billion bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants, saying the cost will be passed on to ratepayers.

Cuomo plans to transition 50 percent of the state’s power to renewable energy by 2030. Part of the program includes a multi-billion-dollar subsidy to Exelon, the company that now runs two upstate nuclear power plants — Nine Mile Point in Oswego and Ginna near Rochester — and is hoping to run a third plant, FitzPatrick, also in Oswego.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The scandal over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs has led to more scrutiny of whether the projects are the best way to improve the state’s economy, and some watchdog groups are asking questions.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said much of the responsibility for the alleged corruption scandal touching his administration is on the state university system, specifically SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which oversaw many of the contracts.

But reform groups say the governor is not telling the whole story.

Cuomo has made a few public appearances since U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued criminal complaints against nine people, including several close to Cuomo and two major upstate real estate developers.

Pages