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

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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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New Yorkers who use e-cigarettes will have to comply with the same limits on smoking cigarettes in public, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law.

But anti-smoking advocates say more needs to be done to combat the rising use of the nicotine product.

Cuomo said the new law closes a "dangerous loophole" in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act, which limits cigarette smoking in public places. Those same restrictions will now apply to smokeless e-cigarettes.

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The state’s governor and senior U.S. Senator teamed up Monday to urge New York’s congressional delegation to oppose a provision in the federal tax overhaul plan that they say could be harmful to the state’s taxpayers and economy.

Speaking outside a suburban home in Albany County, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the federal plan to get rid of the state and local tax deductions "double taxation." Schumer said middle-class New Yorkers will pay more money in taxes each year if the proposal is approved.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

We walk up the trail to the summit of Hadley Mountain in the southern Adirondacks, fallen leaves crunching underfoot.

The wind picks up a bit as we climb up the fire tower for the panoramic view.

"Were looking at the most marvelous combination of balsam fir and northern hardwood trees on a ridge line that stretches north," said David Gibson with Adirondack Wild. "From here we can see the high peaks of the Adirondack Park."

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The fallout continues from President Donald Trump’s decision to end subsidies to health insurance companies to help lower-income Americans pay for their health insurance. But it’s still unclear what the exact impact will be in New York.

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A wide variety of groups have spent more than $1.3 million to urge voters to vote “no” on holding a constitutional convention. The opponents have far outspent a smaller number of advocates who urge a "yes" vote on the November ballot. 

The more than 150-member coalition opposing a constitutional convention includes labor unions, and the state’s Conservative Party, which often opposes unions. Also against the convention are both pro and anti-abortion groups, environmentalists and gun rights organizations.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

The state’s comptroller is siding with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over concerns that federal health care cuts will damage New York’s budget, but he said the governor’s budget experts should have saved more money in rainy day funds.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Cuomo is right to draw attention to over a billion dollars in potential health care cuts to the state, now that Congress and President Donald Trump have postponed acting on a new federal budget.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo now says he’s returning all of the money donated to his campaign from disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein.

Cuomo initially returned $50,000 donated from Weinstein to the governor’s 2018 reelection campaign. The governor said he’d already spent over $60,000 that the politically liberal movie mogul had donated to previous campaigns, and so could not give it back.

Weinstein is accused of sexually harassing and raping women. Weinstein has denied the charges, though he’s admitted he has a problem and is seeking help.

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New Yorkers have the power on Nov. 7 to decide whether some state officials convicted of a felony should be stripped of their pensions.

But the proposal would not apply to two former legislative leaders and several former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo who are accused of corruption.

The ballot proposition before voters on Election Day would allow a judge to determine whether a state official convicted of crimes like bribery or bid-rigging should lose all or part of their pension.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is more prominent on the national stage these days, leading some to wonder whether he is running for president.

In Cuomo’s first term as governor, he made a point of never leaving the state, even taking vacations within its borders, saying the state is so beautiful that he never needed to leave it. He discouraged any talk of seeking higher office.

Lately, though, that has changed.

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The tax overhaul plan proposed by President Donald Trump and now being considered in Congress would end the deduction on federal income tax forms for state and local property taxes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it would disproportionately harm New Yorkers, where property taxes are among the highest in the nation, and he’s taken opportunities at recent public events to make the case against the plan.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

People who say the terminally ill should have a legal option to end their lives with medical aid presented petitions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, asking that he and the Legislature make that change. 

About 7,500 New York State Fair attendees signed the petition, which asks that “a mentally capable, terminally ill adult with a prognosis of six months or less” to live be permitted the option to obtain medication to end their lives if “their suffering becomes unbearable.”

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he may have to call a special session in December to deal with potential funding cuts from Washington that he calls part of a “federal assault” on New York.

Cuomo said he’s developing a plan to manage what he said will be over a billion dollars in cuts to the state’s public hospitals, now that Congress has failed to renew a key program.

“All hospitals will need to find savings,” Cuomo said.

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