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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Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting $7 million into his 30-day budget amendments to fund poll sites for early voting in New York by the 2020 presidential race.

The funds would be used to set up at least one polling site in every county 12 days before Election Day so that voters can have several weekdays and two full weekends before elections to cast their ballot early.

Cuomo’s budget director, Robert Mujica, made the announcement on Monday.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will detail his proposals to help New Yorkers affected by changes to the federal tax law. But Republicans who rule the state Senate are cool to the ideas, including one that creates a payroll tax instead of a state income tax.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget director said 30-day amendments to the governor’s spending plan, which is due out later this week, will include an overhaul of the state’s tax code. It will include plans to ease the effects of the loss of the state and local tax deductions in the new federal tax overhaul.

Robert Mujica said the governor will propose a payroll tax credit program that businesses could use instead of the state and local income tax system.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

The flu epidemic is hitting the corruption trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, with proceedings delayed for a day and a half because a key defense attorney has come down with the virus.

The judge and the prosecution and defense attorneys in the bribery case of Percoco and three upstate businessmen met Monday to discuss when the trial can resume.

Part of the proceedings focused on telephone calls to attorney Daniel Gitner, who was sick at home with the flu, to inquire what medications he is taking and whether he is running a fever.   

Rich Mitchell / Flickr

Republicans are seeking political advantage in the federal corruption trial of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former closest aide.

One of the governor’s opponents is pressuring Cuomo to answer some of the revelations in the trial about how state business was conducted, and whether a pay-to-play “atmosphere” was created.

NYS Assembly

In the midst of a national debate on immigration, the New York State Assembly this week passed a bill to give children of undocumented immigrants access to financial aid for college.

The measure, which is separate from federal legislation and would apply only to New York state, would allow undocumented students to be eligible for funds from the state’s Tuition Assistance Program if they attended high school in New York state or received a general equivalency diploma and have applied to a college or university within the state.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

Testimony at the trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, has highlighted some practices inside the governor’s office that government reform groups say is at the very least questionable, and possibly even illegal.

Percoco, often described as Cuomo’s right-hand man and a “brother,” is accused of engaging in two separate bribery schemes with companies doing business with the state.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

A Republican candidate for governor is calling for hearings on controversial tourism signs that the Cuomo administration set up on the New York State Thruway and other highways. The federal government said the signs are illegal and will withhold federal funds if they are not removed.

John DeFrancisco, a GOP candidate for governor and the deputy Senate leader, said he wants the state Legislature to hold hearings into the 514 tourism signs posted along numerous highways in the state.

Rich Mitchell / Flickr

The bribery trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, begins its third week in federal court Monday. Cuomo has not commented on the proceedings and has instead been busy focusing on other topics.

In the first two weeks of the trial, questions have been raised about Percoco’s use of his state offices while he was off the government payroll for most of 2014 and managing Cuomo’s reelection campaign.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A third Republican candidate has announced his intention to run for governor against Democrat Andrew Cuomo. Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco said he thinks it’s time for a change.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The head of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs said he doesn’t think federal corruption trials now taking place will have any effect on the projects.

Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, is on trial in federal district court in Manhattan, charged with engineering two bribery schemes. One of the companies accused of participating in the crimes received funding through the state’s economic development programs. The two top leaders of COR Development are co-defendants in the trial.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut said they intend to soon file a multi-state lawsuit against the federal tax overhaul law over the partial loss of the deduction of state and local taxes.

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

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.

kolbfornewyork.com

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.

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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.

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