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

Melinda Shelton / Flickr

It’s been 10 years since New York’s highest court ordered that more state money be paid to schools with the poorest children. But advocates say that since the 2006 ruling, many so-called high-need schools have fallen even further behind.

The Alliance for Quality Education looked at aid in the state budget allotted to 161 of the poorest schools among the more than 700 districts in New York.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to focus on positive actions in his public events in recent days as a federal investigation into his administration’s economic development programs continues. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Business leaders, particularly those in upstate New York, say the recently concluded 2016 legislative session was the worst for small businesses in quite some time.

-JvL- / Flickr

What began in January as an ambitious reform package to address a wave of corruption at the Capitol, proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, dwindled to just two proposals by the time the session closed in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning. Cuomo had proposed a number of changes in January to react to a wave of corruption that led to the convictions of the two former leader of the legislature on felony corruption charges.

stgermh / Flickr

State lawmakers wrapped up the 2016 legislative session at around 5 a.m. Saturday morning, agreeing to take steps to cancel the pensions of convicted lawmakers in the future, legalizing daily fantasy sports and extending New York City’s mayoral control law for another year.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

The state legislature was closing in on an end-of-session deal that would strip convicted lawmakers of their pensions, extend mayoral control of New York City schools for one more year, and legalize daily fantasy sports gambling.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Hoosick Falls residents came to the Capitol on Wednesday to demand hearings on the water crisis that has revealed high levels of a toxic chemical in many people’s bloodstreams. They did not get hearings but did get a private meeting with a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

With the legislative session down to the wire, groups for and against bills — including expansion of Uber ride services and ethics reform — came to the Capitol to make their voices heard.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

As part of the push to end the legislative session by Thursday, state lawmakers representing Hoosick Falls — where water has been contaminated with PFOA — want to extend the statute of limitations to bring lawsuits against polluters.

The bill would extend the current statute of limitations law to allow a three-year window between when a contaminated area is declared a Superfund site and when New Yorkers can file a lawsuit.

The Senate sponsor, Sen. Kathy Marchione, who represents Hoosick Falls, said it’s a top priority for her in the remaining days of the session.

stgermh / Flickr

There are only three more days left in the legislative session, and lawmakers are talking with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about a number of bills — but keeping details close to the vest.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The assemblyman who represents Hoosick Falls is calling for a federal investigation after revelations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration knew about elevated levels of a toxin in the village’s water for a year and a half before residents were warned.

File Photo
SUNY Polytechnic

Until recently, Alain Kaloyeros, leader of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, has been the darling of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. But now, he’s one of the figures at the center of federal and state investigations into alleged pay-to-play schemes for economic development projects and is increasingly on the outs with the administration. 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a crackdown on the coordination of candidates for office and super PACs that are created to support their campaigns.

The super PACs, or independent expenditures, are permitted under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Cuomo says while the ruling cannot be overturned right away without changes to the court, New York can act to make sure that super PACs really are independent. He says the groups have “become a mockery” and are used as a backdoor way around the state’s contribution limits.

stgermh / Flickr

Expectations for major ethics reform in the state legislature are low, even though both former leaders of the legislature are facing prison time for corruption. With just over a week to go before the session ends, only one measure — to take back the pensions of lawmakers who are convicted felons — seems to be in play.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

Two western New York lawmakers have asked State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to review Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development projects.

The comptroller says an ongoing audit is already looking at some aspects of the increasingly controversial project and other Cuomo administration economic development initiatives that are currently under federal investigation.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inspector general has found that numerous security and oversight problems at the state prison in Dannemora contributed to the prison break of two inmates last year.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Two bills to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports and some other forms of gambling are moving through the state legislature, but anti-gambling groups say they should be stopped.

Daily fantasy sports games were halted in New York after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared them illegal last fall. In March, Schneiderman settled with the major companies, Fan Duel and Draft King, saying the sites will continue to be banned until September unless the legislature acts to regulate the online gambling before the end of its session later this month.

NY Assembly Video (file)

The state’s Assembly speaker confirms that federal investigators are looking into some of his actions while he was head of the Bronx Democratic Party, but he says he’s done nothing wrong.

Carl Heastie says he knew he would be under scrutiny when he became speaker after his predecessor, Sheldon Silver, resigned over corruption charges. Silver has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

governorandrewcuomo

It’s been over a month since Gov. Andrew Cuomo hired a special investigator in response to a federal probe of his Buffalo Billion project and other economic development programs. But so far, no contract with that investigator, Bart Schwartz, has been released, and questions remain about what exactly he is investigating.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

With just a few weeks left until the end of the legislative session, a new poll finds New York voters are still craving reform in state government, and they’d rather not see a new law to expand state gambling by legalizing daily fantasy sports.

For the second month in a row, the Siena College poll reports that nearly 100 percent of those surveyed want something done about the corruption in Albany that’s led to both former leaders of the legislature sentenced to prison and the U.S. attorney’s investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

The state legislature ends its session for the year on June 16, and expectations are low for any major pieces of legislation to be resolved before the adjournment, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration faces increasing scrutiny from the U.S. attorney over economic development projects.

Credit SUNY Polytechnic

Probes deepened into alleged corruption by former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former members of his administration, as the attorney general’s office conducted a raid at SUNY Polytechnic Institute offices in Albany Thursday afternoon.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

A board controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders voted Wednesday to approve more than $485 million for the Buffalo Billion project. But there were some questions from board members about details of a program that is now under federal investigation.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released a bill to close a loophole that allows for unlimited big money donations to candidates. The LLC loophole has played a key role in the federal corruption trials of both former leaders of the state legislature, and may be a factor in the ongoing federal investigation of the governor’s economic development projects.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

It’s just over three weeks until the legislative session is scheduled to end, and hopes for reform are fading, during an unprecedented level of corruption in state government.

James F Clay / Flickr

Almost 98 percent of school budgets were approved in statewide voting Tuesday, including the majority of school districts asking for overrides of the state’s mandatory property tax cap.

Only a small number of districts attempted to get the 60 percent supermajority they need to override the tax cap and increase their spending. But of those 36 districts, more than three-quarters succeeded.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a key vote on the next installment of the Buffalo Billion project is merely postponed, not canceled, and he denies that he’s feeling defensive about the widening federal probe of his administration’s economic development projects.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / via Flickr

School budget votes and school board elections are being held across the state Tuesday, and the New York State School Boards Association says more schools are seeking to convince voters to override the state’s tax cap.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

With his former top aide facing a federal probe for potential conflicts of interest for consulting work, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said twice now that he did not know what the former close associate of the Cuomo family was up to. Joe Percoco left state service earlier this year for a job at Madison Square Garden.

But it turns out that the governor had not one, but two ways to know if his current or former top aides have any business deals that could present an ethical conflict.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News File Photo

Another once-powerful New York state politician has been sentenced to prison.

In federal court Thursday, Dean Skelos received five years for corruption; his son, Adam, got a 6½-year sentence.

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