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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governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo saved his ethics proposals for the last stop of his State of the State tour in Albany, where he released a 10-point plan to address rampant corruption that has reached his own administration.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing a plan that he says could cut property taxes in New York — by requiring county leaders to develop a cost-cutting plan and letting voters decide whether it’s a good idea.

As governor, Cuomo does not directly control local property taxes. But he wants to require county executives to do something about the state’s rates, which are highest in the nation. Under his plan, the county leaders would develop cost-cutting blueprints and put them on the ballot so voters could decide whether they want the reductions or not.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing that New York state allow ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft throughout the entire state.

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governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is doing something different with the State of the State this year. Instead of delivering a speech in Albany to lawmakers who will have to approve his proposals, he’s giving six mini speeches in three days all around the state. Legislative leaders will not be attending.

New York State Senate

The new year for the state legislature has begun in discord, with an absent governor and Republicans in the Senate vowing to take a harder line against Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

The year began without Cuomo, who abandoned the tradition of conducting a State of the State speech on the first day of the session in favor of giving a presentation on airport renovations to a group of business leaders in New York City. He’ll do speeches across the state later. 

sebastien.barre / Flickr

An ethics reform proposal quietly circulated between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders for a possible special session that also could include a pay raise is getting blasted by the state’s attorney general as possibly unconstitutional.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Advocates for the homeless say the governor and legislature don’t need to call a special session to free up more money to help create more housing for those in need. They say political leaders could simply sign an already printed memorandum of understanding and start helping people now.

Kevin O’Connor, director of Joseph’s House in Troy, read the names of homeless clients who have passed away in the past year – people he said died too young.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is bringing charges against a former portfolio manager in the state’s pension fund, saying he accepted bribes — that included prostitutes and illegal drugs —from two hedge fund brokers.

Matt Ryan / New York Now

In Albany’s own version of Groundhog Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are still keeping open the possibility of a special session before the year ends that could include legalizing ride-sharing services statewide and a pay raise for lawmakers.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

New York members of the Electoral College met Monday in the Senate chamber at the State Capitol to cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton.

First among them was former President Bill Clinton, who blamed the FBI and the Russians for his wife’s defeat in the presidential race.

The former president voted for his spouse, Hillary Clinton, as did Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and other elected officials and politically connected Democrats from around the state, for a total of 29 votes.

Matt Ryan / New York Now

Discussions over a December special session has turned to finger pointing, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans blame each other over lack of progress.

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If Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers hold a special session next week, they are likely to consider whether to allow ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate outside of New York City. 

Ride-sharing services have stepped up their lobbying and ad campaigns in hopes of winning approval to expand into upstate and on Long Island by the end of the year, including a $1 million campaign by Uber. The ad, in part, says, “There’s one thing New Yorkers really want for Christmas this year. And it isn’t a one-horse sleigh.”

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Two years ago, the state banned hydrofracking of natural gas within the state’s borders. But a group of Cornell University scientists who study the effects of climate change say New Yorkers are using more natural gas than ever.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

New York state’s comptroller has a plan to reduce corruption in the awarding of economic development contracts that has led to the indictment of former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was taken out of the review process for some state economic development contracts in a state law passed in 2011, and since then, a former top aide to Cuomo and a former key State University official, along with seven others, have been charged with bribery and bid-rigging, among other crimes.

Matt Ryan / New York Now

A committee of the New York State Board of Regents recommends spending $2.1 billion more on schools in the new state budget, saying it’s time to continue an effort begun a decade ago to funnel more money to the state’s poorest school districts.

The State Aid Subcommittee’s recommendations, which are expected to be approved by the full Board of Regents later Tuesday, would phase in, over three years, an annual increase of 7 percent on school funding, for a total of $2.1 billion more a year by the 2019-20 school year.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Talks between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are still continuing over whether to hold a special session before the holidays — and the clock is ticking.

State lawmakers are still deliberating over whether to hold a special session in December that could, in part, give themselves a pay raise. The salary increase also could extend to Cuomo and his top commissioners.

It would be the first pay hike granted in 17 years for lawmakers, who make a base salary of $79,500.

Pictures of Money / Flickr

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act — also known as Obamacare — and replace it with something else. While no one really knows what that means, one health care analyst with a prominent Albany think tank said New York could be billions of dollars in the hole as a result.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has spoken to federal prosecutors regarding the prosecution of his former top aide and eight others involved in an economic development scandal.

The governor said he’s met with federal prosecutors since former top aide Joe Percoco, a former lobbyist who was a close Cuomo associate, the head of SUNY Polytechnic and six others were charged with bribery, bid-rigging and other corruption charges in connection with the governor’s upstate economic development programs. Two executives of Syracuse-based COR Development were among those charged.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo handed out more than $700 million in Regional Economic Development Council awards in Albany on Thursday.

The governor has held an annual contest to make regions of the state compete to win millions of dollars in economic development funds. They are judged by the strength of their plans.

The awards ranged from over $80 million for the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, New York City and the Mid-Hudson Valley to over $60 million each for Western New York, the Southern Tier, Central New York, the North Country and Long Island.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

A long-term energy plan by the Cuomo administration that includes a nearly $8 billion subsidy to upstate nuclear power plants is being challenged from both ends of the political spectrum, and a lawsuit has been filed to try to stop the deal.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

The New York attorney general has proposed a package of bills aimed at improving to what he said are “arcane” and “ridiculous” voting laws that bar many potential New York voters from casting ballots.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began a statewide inquiry after his office received a record number of complaints about lack of voter access during the April presidential primary.

“In New York, we have what amounts to legal voter suppression,” Schneiderman said Tuesday at a news conference in Albany.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

State lawmakers are considering whether to have a special session this month where they would vote on, among other things, a pay raise for themselves.

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 File Photo

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.

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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.

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