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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Rich Mitchell / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chief of staff was one of the first witnesses to testify at the corruption trial of Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco. Linda Lacewell described Percoco as a trusted loyal and very senior aide to the governor.

Percoco, along with three businessmen, is accused of engineering two bribery schemes. In one, he allegedly arranged for his wife to get a $90,000 a year teaching job with a power plant company where she did little work.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

The prosecution and defense offered two very different versions of events in the trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s former top aide Joe Percoco and three business associates in Federal District Court in Manhattan Tuesday. Much of the prosecutor’s case will hinge on testimony of another former, associate Todd Howe who pleaded guilty to several felonies and will be the government’s star witness.

Rich Mitchell / Flickr

Jurors have been chosen in the public corruption trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco, with opening statements scheduled to begin Tuesday.

The racially diverse jury of five men and seven women were chosen from a pool of thirty potential jurors, some of whom expressed strong feelings about corruption and big money in politics, and even about hydrofracking.

Percoco is being tried along with two Syracuse-area developers, and the head of a power plant company based in the lower Hudson Valley, that is currently building a natural gas fired power plant.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr File Photo

The first of a series of federal corruption trials begins Monday for several former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The proceedings in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan will focus on bribery and other charges against Cuomo’s former closest aide, Joseph Percoco.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing an increase in school aid of $769 million, a rise of about 3 percent over last year, but some say that’s not enough to meet school districts’ rising costs.

The hike is about half of the increase that schools ultimately received in last year’s budget. Cuomo, in his budget presentation to the state Legislature, said he anticipates some blowback.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced legislation to end what’s known as the carried interest loophole, a measure long sought by the left of the governor’s Democratic Party.

Under Cuomo’s bill, carried interest — which is essentially income for partners of hedge funds and other private investment companies — would have to be taxed at the same rate as income. Currently, it is assessed at the lower rate of the capital gains tax.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

A report by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax department lists ways that New Yorkers could get around the loss of some of their state and local tax deductions under the new law. But all of them come with complications.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $168 billion budget plan that would close an over $4 billion gap by reducing some spending and imposing tax increases on health insurers, big businesses and prescription opioid users, among others. Cuomo said he also wants to look into legalizing marijuana in New York.

“This is going to be challenging, my friends,” Cuomo told lawmakers gathered at the state museum for the budget presentation.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking at the annual Martin Luther King Day event at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, mocked Republican senators who said they can’t recall President Donald Trump uttering a vulgarity during a meeting at the White House on immigration.

Cuomo, who earlier called the president’s comments “ugly” and “repulsive,” condemned two GOP senators – David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas – who say they either did not hear or do not recall Trump using a vulgar word to describe African countries.

Jim Bowen / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his budget Tuesday, and the news is not expected to be good.

The state faces an over $4.4 billion budget gap, as well as funding cuts and policy changes from Washington that could cost New York and some of its taxpayers billions of dollars.

The governor set the tone in his State of the State speech earlier this month, saying, “2018 may be the toughest year New York has faced in modern history.”

“We have unprecedented challenges ahead on every level,” Cuomo said. 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his first public comments since a key state Senate leader was accused of sexual harassment, says he wants investigations to play out before he makes any judgements.

New York State Senate

Shortly after sexual harassment allegations against Senate Independent Democratic Leader Jeff Klein emerged, numerous people started calling for an independent investigation. But under current law, there are few avenues available for launching a probe.


The 2018 election season is beginning, but state Republicans are still trying to settle on a strong candidate to challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he wants to seek a third term. 

Republican State Party Chair Ed Cox said the GOP will have a “good,” qualified and viable candidate.


The leader of the Independent Democrats in the state Senate denies that he forcibly kissed a former staffer, and says he intends to remain as leader of the breakaway democratic faction.

New York State Senate

Republicans in the State Senate say that, despite the over  $4 billion structural deficit, taxes need to be cut further and a property tax cap must be made permanent.

Matt Ryan / New York Now (file photo)

Monday was the first full day of session in the New York State legislature, and lawmakers have a lot to contend with, including a multi-billion dollar budget deficit.

The state Assembly gaveled in first, with remarks by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. The speaker, a Star Trek fan, used one of his favorite quotes from the series as he offered a critique of what he calls “radical policies” by President Trump and the Republican Congress in Washington.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State speech this week, floated the idea of converting the state income tax to a payroll tax to help reverse the new federal law that limits deductibility for state and local taxes. Many support the concept, but businesses say it’s not so easy to make the change – and it could bring unforeseen complications.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

2018 will be a year of criminal trials for former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as former leaders of the Legislature. Reform groups say they hope the lengthy court proceedings will spur lawmakers to enact some ethics reforms.

Six continuous months of corruption trials kick off on Jan. 22, when Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco faces bribery charges for allegedly soliciting more than $300,000 from companies doing business with the state.

Blair Horner with the New York Public Interest Research Group said it will be a year unlike any other.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his eighth State of the State speech, told lawmakers that 2018 will be the “most challenging” year, and he said they will have to fight against what he said are “threats” from the federal government. He also announced steps to combat sexual harassment and reform the state’s criminal justice system.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address on Wednesday, kicking off a challenging year of budget deficits and re-election races.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not officially announced a candidacy for a third term, but has told everyone he’s planning to run next year.

But it’s hard to talk about Cuomo’s potential race for reelection next year without discussing the presidential race in 2020, and whether Cuomo will be a candidate.

jamelah / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing early voting in New York as part of his State of the State message, due out Jan. 3. But a top aide to the governor said it might be awhile before the proposals could become law and take effect.

The proposal would require each county to set up at least one early voting poll site during the 12 days leading up to Election Day. The sites would be open for five hours a day on the two weekends leading up to elections, as well as eight hours a day on weekdays.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s vowed to lead a campaign against the state’s Republican Congressional representatives in the 2018 elections, has spent the final weeks of 2017 feuding with them over their votes on the federal tax overhaul bill.

Cuomo has been saying for weeks that the overhaul would be “devastating” to New York’s finances and to many of its taxpayers, and he’s called Republican House members who support the plan “traitors” and “Benedict Arnolds.” 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has instituted a minimum wage increase for most workers in the state, now wants to extend that rate to tipped workers, including wait staff and car washers. That news is causing a backlash from restaurant owners and small business groups.

The current state minimum wage for tipped workers is $7.50 an hour. That’s lower than the minimum wage for non-tipped workers, which ranges from $9.70 an hour upstate in some industries to $12 an hour for fast-food workers in New York City.

Jim Bowen / Flickr

With a projected multibillion-dollar deficit and looming federal changes that could cost the state billions more, the biggest obstacle in the upcoming 2018 legislative session will be balancing the state budget.

The second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, John DeFrancisco, said the budget will be “horrible” and the worst in at least seven years.

“I think it’s going to be very, very difficult,” DeFrancisco said. “Probably the most difficult budget year the governor has had since he’s been governor.” 


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.