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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10:21am

Thu April 19, 2012
Politics and Government

Senate Democrats press minimum wage hike

Democrats in the State Senate held a forum promoting a hike in the state’s minimum wage, while a conservative group says there’s already a government program in place that  boosts the earnings of low wage workers well above the current minimum standard.

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8:27am

Wed April 18, 2012
Politics and Government

Pro Choice Groups Seek Cuomo's Support on Reproductive Rights Law

Pro-choice advocates promoting the women’s reproductive health act say they are counting on Governor Andrew Cuomo to help the bill become law this year.

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7:44am

Thu April 12, 2012
Politics and Government

Cuomo vetoes member items

Governor Cuomo has vetoed over half a million dollars of legislative member items, saying he’s following through on a promise to ban the funds, which have been used in the past to finance lawmakers’ pet projects.

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7:24am

Tue March 27, 2012
Politics and Government

State Lawmakers hopeful for budget agreement by week's end

New York lawmakers are very optimistic about getting a budget done on time again this year. They say 99% of the state’s spending plan has been closed down, and they will pass bills before the end of the week.  

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7:06am

Fri March 23, 2012
Politics and Government

Lawmakers Leave For Weekend With Budget Unresolved

State lawmakers have abandoned the idea of completing a state budget one week ahead of schedule, legislators were due home in their districts late Thursday without agreement on a new spending plan.

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6:01am

Thu March 15, 2012
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo, Legislative leaders reach agreement on redistricting, other issues

The New York Senate and Assembly have approved new district lines, as Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced agreement on a number of other unrelated issues, including expansion of the state’s DNA data base, pension reform, and an amendment to allow more gambling in New York.  

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9:23am

Mon March 12, 2012
Politics and Government

Redistricting Amendment Scrutinized

State lawmakers have missed a deadline to come to an agreement on the redrawing of Congressional district lines, likely leaving a federal judge's plan as the one that will be instituted.

A State Assembly spokesman said Sunday night that an agreement could not be reached and they await the judge's revised plan, which is due out Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Roanne Mann's first draft removes Oswego County from Democrat Bill Owens's district. The county would be split, with half going to Republican Ann-Marie Buerkle and half going to fellow Republican Richard Hanna.

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7:15am

Thu February 16, 2012
Politics and Government

State Senate leader says bill to hold state primary in June will not pass

The Leader of the State Senate says an Assembly bill to hold state legislative primaries on June 26th is dead on arrival in his house, making it more likely that the state will hold three separate primaries this year.

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7:13am

Thu February 16, 2012
Politics and Government

Bipartisan coalition endorses Gov. Cuomo's plan for campaign finance reform

A new bi partisan coalition of former elected officials,  business and civic leaders, is endorsing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for campaign finance reform.  

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7:24am

Wed February 15, 2012
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo attempts to take audit powers from State Comptroller

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s trying to make government more efficient by taking pre audit oversight powers away from the State’s Comptroller in his state budget proposal.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli criticized Cuomo’s proposal, saying the pre audits have saved millions of dollars by flagging potential problems in the contracts. Cuomo says he’s not taking away the comptroller’s authority but trying to speed up an inefficient procurement process. He says the Comptroller and others are simply resisting reform of what he says is an “historically dysfunctional government”.

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7:17am

Wed February 15, 2012
Politics and Government

State Assembly introduces bill to hold all state primaries in June

The New York State Assembly has introduced a bill to hold all of the state’s primary elections on June 26th, to correspond with a court order requiring that congressional primary contests be held then.  So far, the State Senate wants to hold the state primaries on a separate date, in late August.

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7:44am

Tue February 14, 2012
Politics and Government

State Senator Returns to work after Fight at Casino

Senator Mark Grisanti

A State Senator from Western New York was back at work at the State Capitol Monday, following an incident over the weekend at a Niagara Falls Indian Casino where he and his wife were involved in a fight.

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7:41am

Fri January 27, 2012
Politics and Government

State Legislature releases redistricted lines, Democrats not happy

The New York State legislature’s proposed redistricted lines have been finally been released to the public. The plans for Senate districts are drawing the most fire,  for the addition of a newly created 63rd district and configurations that pit some incumbent minority party Democrats against one another.

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7:46am

Wed January 25, 2012
Politics and Government

N.Y. Mayors testify in front of Legislative Budget Committee

Mayors from across the state came to the Capitol to testify to a joint legislative fiscal committee on Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget. While New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg went out of his way to offer support to the governor and for his budget plan, Mayors of upstate cities begged for a bail out. 

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8:22am

Tue January 24, 2012
Politics and Government

Anti-fracking protest at State Capitol draws hundreds

Actress Debra Winger at an anti-fracking rally in Albany Monday
Karen Dewitt

Actress Debra Winger and Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox were among hundreds of anti fracking protesters who descended upon the State Capitol Monday, in one of the largest demonstrations against the natural gas drilling process so far.

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7:45am

Mon January 23, 2012
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo introduces bill to legalize casino gambling in New York

Governor Cuomo has released a bill to amend the state’s constitution to legalize casino gambling in New York.

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7:01am

Wed January 18, 2012
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo releases budget that closes $2 billion gap

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his 2012 budget
Marie Cusick/WMHT

 

Governor Cuomo released a state budget plan that closes a $2 billion dollar gap, recommends a phased in state takeover of county health care costs, and offers an ultimatum to schools to accept a teacher evaluation program or lose increased school funding.

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6:56am

Mon January 16, 2012
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo to give budget presentation Tuesday

Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to release his state  budget plan on Tuesday, as New York faces a $2 billion dollar budget gap.  

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9:27am

Wed January 11, 2012
Politics and Government

Assembly Speaker offers support to education lobbyists, criticizes Gov. Cuomo

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver offered his support to lobbyists for more school aid funding, and offered a subtle criticism to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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7:45am

Tue January 10, 2012
Politics and Government

State Legislature spends first day of session working on bi-partisan bill

The New York State legislature, on its first official day of business, acted in a show of bi- partisanship, to divest the state of investments in Iran, but Democrats and Republicans in the Senate continue to argue over redistricting. 

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10:47am

Mon January 9, 2012
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo calling for public campaign financing

Governor Cuomo, in his state of the state message, called for public financing of campaigns, based on a model currently in use in New York City. Proponents, including those who have studied the model as well as public finance systems in other states, believe it can work.

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8:17am

Tue January 3, 2012
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo hopes to continue success in 2012

Governor Cuomo, by all accounts, had a successful first year in office accomplishing many of his top goals laid out last January. He implemented his fiscally conservative agenda, including closing a gaping $10 billion dollar budget deficit without imposing any new taxes at the time, and getting the spending plan done on time, a rarity in Albany. Cuomo also convinced skeptical lawmakers to agree to a 2% property tax cap.

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8:00am

Tue January 3, 2012
Politics and Government

The future of hydrofracking in New York in 2012

One of the biggest and most controversial issues facing New York in the New Year is hydrofracking.  Governor Andrew Cuomo’s environmental department is conducting a review process and is likely to begin issuing permits sometime in 2012.

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9:08am

Mon December 19, 2011
Politics and Government

Joint Commission on Public Ethics meets behind closed doors

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced their appointments to the new Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE early last week. It was the last possible day before the commission was, under law, required to begin its work.

The first meeting was held late Thursday. It was a private teleconference, and no public notice was given.  The Associated Press first reported the existence of the meeting.

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6:52am

Thu December 15, 2011
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo to introduce bill extending sex abuse reporting to coaches

Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced legislation that would require coaches at high schools and universities to report suspected incidents of child sexual abuse. The governor says the bill is in response to the alleged sex abuse charges against Syracuse University basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine.

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7:40am

Tue December 13, 2011
Politics and Government

Appointments for the Joint Commission on Public Ethics

Governor Cuomo named Janet DiFiore, the District Attorney of Westchester County, to chair the commission. He also appointed Seymour Knox the IV, who is VP of Corporate Relations for the Buffalo Sabres, as well as the chair of a private equity firm, and Mitra Hormozi, who worked for Cuomo when he was Attorney General.   

Senate Leader Dean Skelos picks include former Western New York State Senator Mary Lou Rath. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver chose former state budget director Patrick Bulgaro.

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3:53pm

Mon December 12, 2011
Politics and Government

Governor Cuomo's Change on Tax Policy

Governor Cuomo, in his first day on the job back on January 1st of this year, laid out his position on raising taxes pretty clearly.

“I say no new taxes, period,” Cuomo said on January 1.

 

The governor was answering a question from reporters, in his first media availability as governor, on whether he would support continuing the current surcharge on New Yorkers making $200,000 and up, which includes millionaires and multi-millionaires, when it expires December 31st.  Cuomo expanded on his view point during that session on January 1st.

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6:12am

Wed December 7, 2011
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo, Legislative leaders agree to higher taxes on the rich, lower taxes for middle class

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced a deal to raise taxes on the rich, and slightly lower taxes for the middle class.

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8:15am

Tue December 6, 2011
Politics and Government

Wealthy New Yorkers could pay higher taxes if Gov. Cuomo changes tax code

Talks are taking place behind the scenes on changes to New York’s tax code that could result in the wealthy paying higher taxes.  Governor Cuomo, who is asking for the changes, is also proposing a gambling expansion and  other initiatives which he is asking the state legislature to consider later this week.

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8:03am

Fri December 2, 2011
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo considering special session to cut growing budget gap

The gaps in the New York State budget, for the current year and the new fiscal year, are widening.  Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers are considering a number of options, including a special session, and revamping of the state’s tax code a means of generating more money for state coffers.

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