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.

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There’s now one official candidate running for governor of New York in 2018, and that’s the Assembly’s Republican leader, Brian Kolb.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The deputy leader of the state Senate said 2018 will be a difficult year for balancing the state budget.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, predicted cutbacks in health care spending to help close a multibillion-dollar deficit.

DeFrancisco said the state’s $4.4 billion projected deficit, combined with potential effects of the federal tax overhaul on New York, will make the next state budget the most difficult one in at least seven years.

“It’s going to be a horrible budget,” DeFrancisco said.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco / Facebook

At an event that’s become increasingly rare in state politics, two politicians from opposing parties sat down together and had a civil discussion about issues facing New York.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, and Republican state Sen. John DeFrancisco spoke in Albany during a forum about state issues and politics. 

“To have a vibrant civic dialogue is important,” said Miner. “The fact that it’s been missing, we’ve all suffered for it.”

DeFrancisco, who also is from Syracuse, agreed.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

According to published reports, some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hiring practices are the subject of an FBI investigation.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

County leaders across New York are the latest to complain about the tax overhaul plan now being crafted in Congress. They predict higher taxes for many New Yorkers, declining home prices and slowed economic growth.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said the federal tax bill will lead to many middle- and upper-class New Yorkers paying higher taxes because of the proposed end to state and local tax deductions. And he said the state’s over $4 billion projected deficit and potential funding cuts aren’t helping either.

“Brace yourselves,” McCoy said.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

New York faces fiscal challenges in 2018, but that has not stopped groups from asking for more money in the new state budget, including agencies that provide care to people with disabilities. 

Chanting, “Be fair to direct care,” about 200 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, along with their family members and caregivers, gathered in a reception area outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office Wednesday to ask for more help in paying the workers more money. 

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

One of the biggest challenges that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers will face in 2018 is balancing the state’s budget, which already has a structural deficit of more than $4 billion. On top of that, federal changes to taxes and health care could cost the state billions more in lost funding.

State tax revenues are down, contributing to the largest structural budget gap in seven years. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli estimates the deficit to be about $4.4 billion.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The governors of New York, California and New Jersey on Monday strongly condemned the GOP tax bill now before Congress, saying it is unfair to their states and will wreak havoc on the U.S. economy.

In a conference call, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the federal tax overhaul plan that severely restricts state and local tax deductions is “political retaliation” against 12 states that are run by Democrats.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Twenty state and national groups supporting a bill that would strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Law are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the measure into law as soon as he receives it from the state Legislature.

The bill, approved by the Senate and the Assembly in June, said if a court finds that a state agency unreasonably dragged its feet answering a Freedom of Information request, a judge could require the agency to pay the attorney’s fees for the person or group who made the FOIL request.

nysassembly.gov

A state Assemblyman has been sanctioned by the Assembly Ethics Committee for allegedly sexually harassing a staff member. Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin denies the charges and has asked for a criminal investigation of the ethics committee itself.

The complaint against McLaughlin stems from a June 2016 complaint from a female staffer, who said the Republican from Rensselaer County made lewd comments to her and asked to see nude photos of her. McLaughlin also is accused of releasing the name of the staff member, then lying about it.

New York State Senate

The state Democratic Party, led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is offering carrots and sticks to two rival factions of Democrats in the state Senate in an effort to get them to reunite and potentially rule the chamber.

Bernt Rostad / Flickr

The Congressional Budget Office report released Sunday finds that the Senate tax overhaul bill harms the poorest Americans even more than originally thought. 

The CBO finds that Americans making $30,000 or less would be worse off under the Senate tax plan by 2019. Those earning $40,000 or less would be net losers under the plan by 2021. And by 2027, U.S residents who make $75,000 or lower would be worse off under the plan.

Matt Churchill / Flickr

Now that the House of Representatives has voted for a tax overhaul plan that some state leaders say will harm New York, the action moves to the Senate, where a vote is expected after Thanksgiving.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is slamming the tax overhaul plan passed Thursday by the House of Representatives, saying it will be “poison” to New York.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Several corruption trials are set for 2018 after a scandal involving nine of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former associates who worked on his administration’s economic development projects. Advocates say they will continue to push for reforms to prevent such problems from happening again.

Catherine Loper / WRVO News (file photo)

Two reports issued in recent days indicate that Gov. Andrew Cuomo may be facing his most difficult budget in seven years.

The midyear financial report by the governor’s budget office has lowered revenue estimates by $850 million for the current budget year and the next two years. And it finds that next year’s projected deficit is now at $4.4 billion, if spending growth continues unchecked.

Cuomo began sounding the alarm weeks before the report was released.

-JvL- / Flickr

Testimony at an Assembly hearing Monday grew heated as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development chair defended some faltering job creation programs.

Empire State Development Chair Howard Zemsky also signaled the state may be backing away from a key program to give tax breaks to startup entrepreneurs.

Matt Ryan / New York Now

New York’s Lt. Gov., Kathy Hochul, is marking the 100 year anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the state. But, as Hochul told Karen DeWitt in an interview with public radio and television, women still have a ways to go to gain true equality.   

kristen_a / Flickr

Democrats in New York are heartened by what they call a “blue wave” in this week’s election results in the state and the nation.

This year is considered an “off” election year with no presidential race or statewide contests like a governor’s race. Nevertheless, Democrats in New York hungry for signs of encouragement after the 2016 election of President Donald Trump are very happy about Democratic wins in the county executive races in two suburban New York counties, Nassau and Westchester.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Supporters of holding a constitutional convention to fix problems in state government say they are disappointed with the resounding defeat of the measure in Tuesday’s voting, but they say they are not giving up.

jamelah / via Flickr

The ballot proposition on whether to hold a state constitutional convention was soundly defeated in Tuesday’s election.

New Yorkers passed on a once in two decades chance to hold a constitutional convention, with more than 77 percent of New Yorkers voting against it. Opponents, led by the state’s labor unions, successfully argued that the constitution already contains a number of rights, including several labor protections, and that it might be dangerous to reopen the entire document at a convention that they said could be hijacked by special interests.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are once again warning that New Yorkers will be hurt if the Republican tax overhaul plan in Congress is approved.

Schumer, who is Senate Democratic Leader, says while the tax plan has changed from the original version, 71 percent of the deductions that now benefit state residents would be eliminated. The plan would end deductions for state and local income taxes, and cap the property tax deduction at $10,000 a year. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Proposition One on New York’s ballot, which asks voters whether there should be a constitutional convention, is getting a lot of attention, with TV ads and social media posts.

But there are two other proposals for voters to consider.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

It appears opponents of holding a state constitutional convention have the momentum as Election Day approaches. They’ve spent more money than supporters, and a recent poll shows the public is leaning against it. But backers are not giving up just yet. 

David Paul Ohmer / Flickr

The tax plan unveiled by Republicans in the House of Representatives Thursday would disproportionately raise taxes on those living in Northeast states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Many lawmakers from the region, including Republicans, are against the plan.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

A new poll finds that the ballot question on whether to hold a constitutional convention in New York has become widely unpopular with voters. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Sam Hoyt, former Buffalo-area assemblyman and regional head of economic development under Gov. Andrew Cuomo, resigned his post one day before it became public that he’d paid a woman $50,000 in exchange for her ending accusations of sexual harassment against him. Hoyt admits in a statement that he made “mistakes,” but says the woman’s charges are untrue.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Wall Street profits are up by one-third over the same period last year, the New York state comptroller said.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said the gain of $12.3 billion is good news for New Yorkers with retirement accounts invested in the market, as well as the state’s pension fund.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

New York’s leaders are continuing to struggle with actions in Congress on the federal budget and tax overhaul that could adversely affect the state’s finances. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it’s possible he’ll call a special session to address potential gaps in the state budget that could total several billion dollars. But he said the uncertainty over what will happen in Washington on health care funding and on major tax changes is making it hard to plan.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

There’s some misinformation on social media regarding a key ballot item in next month’s elections on whether to hold a constitutional convention.

New Yorkers have a choice of voting yes or no on three proposition questions on the November ballot. A posting that has gone viral on social media is spreading some misinformation to voters. It warns against what it said is a “sneaky and underhanded” rule regarding the question on Proposition One -- whether New York should hold a constitutional convention.

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