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.

Ways to Connect

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke for the first time since news broke that his former close associate is under federal investigation for possibly taking illegal payments from developers working on state economic development projects. Former top aide Joe Percoco left his state job for several months in 2014 when he managed Cuomo’s reelection campaign. Cuomo says Percoco told him that he might do some other consulting work while he was off the state payroll, but Percoco did not tell him who the clients...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The New York State Legislature has been on a three-week break. In their absence, federal investigations into aides close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have intensified, spurring even more calls for reform. Also, both former leaders of the legislature will be sentenced in the next few days on multiple felony convictions.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Over the weekend, news broke that top aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are being probed by the U.S. attorney in connection with the Buffalo Billion economic development project. The Buffalo Billion project is the centerpiece of Cuomo’s efforts to reverse decades of economic decline in New York’s second largest city. It’s been credited with helping spur jobs and new industries, including in high tech and the medical field. Last summer, at the topping off ceremony at the giant Solar City factory,...

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Government reform groups say you can add one more item to the long list of reforms that they believe are needed in Albany. They say limits are needed on campaign contributions to county political committees. The committees collection and distribution of money factor into a growing criminal case against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, and upstate Senate races in 2014.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

In the past week, two major natural gas pipelines have been scrapped in New York. A third, which would expand a line that is near the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant, is still scheduled, but opponents are putting pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to use his persuasive powers with the federal government to stop the expansion. Opponents of new pipelines carrying natural gas extracted from hydrofracking have had a good week. First, Kinder Morgan announced it would not build a planned pipeline...

Payne Horning / WRVO News

New York’s restrictive voter access rules came under scrutiny during Tuesday’s presidential primary. And some are saying there’s a need for changes. The potential disenfranchisement of over 125,000 voters in Brooklyn, first reported by WNYC on primary day, has led to probes by the state attorney general and the New York City comptroller. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said entire blocks of voters and buildings were missing from the rolls after election officials said they were merely...

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Tuesday is not only New York’s presidential primary, it also the day for two special elections to replace the disgraced former leaders of the legislature who lost their seats after being convicted on multiple felony corruption charges. One of the races is to replace former Senate Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican who is now facing a lengthy prison term on corruption convictions. The Democrats have put up Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a former prosecutor who worked on the corruption case against...

All three Republican presidential candidates spoke at the state GOP dinner Thursday night. Trump spent much of his speech recounting his real estate deals in New York City, saying he built the very hotel where the event was held -- the Hyatt at Grand Central Station. He also defended New York values as embodied after 9/11 when New Yorkers displayed courage and selflessness. “These are the values that we need to make America great again,” Trump told the audience. “We need these values to bring...

The New York State Republican Party’s annual dinner Thursday evening will feature all three GOP presidential candidates, likely the only time they will all be together in one place before Tuesday’s primary. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are all due at the event in New York City, though they will all be speaking separately, says Republican State Party Chair Ed Cox. Cox, who is remaining neutral in the race, says the intense focus on New York can only be good overall for party...

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A poll from Siena College finds that Bernie Sanders has narrowed the gap with Hillary Clinton in the New York presidential primary race, but Clinton leads in key voting groups. The poll finds Clinton ten points ahead of Sanders, at 52 percent to 42 percent, but Clinton is ahead in voter-rich New York City and the surrounding suburbs. The two are even in upstate, but only around one-quarter of total Democratic voters live there. Siena’s Steve Greenberg says there’s also an age divide between...

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

A new poll finds that Bernie Sanders has narrowed the gap with Hillary Clinton among likely Democratic voters in the New York residential primary race, but Clinton leads in key voting regions. The Siena College poll finds that while 52 percent of Democrats would vote for Hillary Clinton, compared to 42 percent for Bernie Sanders, Clinton is ahead in voter-rich New York City and surrounding suburbs. The two are even in upstate, but that represents just around one-quarter of total Democratic...

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Proponents of New York’s new medical marijuana law say so far, it’s barely functioning, and they say major revisions are necessary to allow more than just a tiny number of patients to benefit. New York’s limited medical marijuana began in January, but advocates and patients say it has not worked out as well as they hoped. They say strict limits on diseases that are eligible for treatment, no insurance coverage, and near complete lack of doctors who have undergone the required training and...

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at a packed arena in Albany Monday night, where he was interrupted by protesters numerous times.

Marguerite Jones / WSKG News

As he began a two-day campaign swing through upstate New York, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke to a very enthusiastic crowd of around 3,000 at an armory in Albany. He got some of the biggest cheers when he called for nationwide ban on hydrofracking. Sanders contrasted his stance on hydrofracking compared to that of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The senator from Vermont now says he wants to ban the natural gas extraction process nationwide. Clinton wants to strictly...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

A quirk in the newly-enacted minimum wage increase could mean that in upstate New York by the early 2020s, fast food workers could be paid significantly more than other low wage jobs, like home health care workers or grocery store cashiers. In the state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature approved a multi-step plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 in New York City and its suburbs, and to $12.50 in the next five years for the rest of the state. But more than six months before...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

“We have a government in hiding,” said Dadey. “A government that operates in the shadows and makes big decisions on behalf of the public without any public scrutiny.”

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Fracktivists, as anti-hydrofracking activists are called, hope to play a role in New York’s presidential primary. They are asking Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as well as Republican candidates, to take a stand against the Constitution Pipeline and other natural gas pipelines, that if approved could criss-cross the state. More than 200 fracktivists held a rally Tuesday to oppose natural gas pipelines in New York, and to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban them. Robert Kennedy, Jr....

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Speaking to a crowd of around 2,000 who waited for hours in the cold to hear the address at Cohoes High School in the Albany area, Clinton focused on economic issues, saying she’d push for rebuilding crumbling infrastructures, and mentioning the ongoing water crisis in nearby Hoosick Falls. She also promised to bring back jobs to the once-thriving mill town and other struggling cities in New York. “I will be the president who brings manufacturing back to upstate New York and America,” Clinton...

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The newly approved state budget includes a minimum wage increase that is the result of several compromises. Announcing the details in a briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo spelled out a complex plan that would allow New York City’s minimum wage workers to receive $15 an hour in three years, Long Island and Westchester employees to get $15 in six years and the rest of the state to reach $12.50 in five years. The governor admits he had to make concessions, but said the new plan will work. “This minimum...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State lawmakers were down to the wire on meeting the state budget deadline and voting went beyond the midnight deadline, into Friday, once all of the budget bills were finalized.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

There’s a framework deal on the state budget as the Thursday midnight deadline approaches, but it appears less likely that the midnight deadline for passage will be met. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his minimum wage proposal now includes a pause in the phase-in to $15 after three years, to reassess the health of the state’s economy.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the minimum wage increase now under discussion with the legislature will include a pause after three years, to reassess the health of the state’s economy. Under the latest plan, the $15 an hour minimum wage would be fully phased in over three years. The timetable for Long Island and upstate would lag behind that. Cuomo says after the first three years, there would be a pause to analyze the effects of the wage hike on the economies of those regions. “If the economy slows...

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Updated at 3:25 p.m. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders appear to have reached an impasse in talks on the state budget, as the March 31 deadline looms. State Senate leaders abruptly left a nearly two-hour, closed-door meeting with Cuomo, saying that unfortunately, they had nothing new to report. “We are not there, we’ll get there, but we are not finalized,” said Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says Cuomo’s plan to require New York City to pay a higher...

stgermh / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders said they hoped to have final agreements on the state budget by Tuesday evening, but no agreement has been reached as of Wednesday morning. Cuomo says he and the leaders have decided what issues will be included in the budget, like minimum wage and paid family leave, but he says important points remain unresolved.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they hope to have final agreements on the state budget by Tuesday evening, and could possibly print bills Tuesday night, to begin voting on Thursday. But by Tuesday afternoon they were still working on reaching final agreements.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Lawmakers worked toward a budget deal Monday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated he’s making some concessions on the minimum wage. Cuomo said he would like budget agreements to come early enough so that all of the bills can be passed by the April 1 deadline. He said he does not want to use what’s called a message of necessity to pass bills faster if agreements come late, but he has not ruled out that possibility altogether.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

When the state budget is approved next week it will likely not include a discount for frequent users of the New York State Thruway. The legislature has rejected Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to use some of the state’s surplus to subsidize tolls. Cuomo wants to use $340 million of bank settlement monies to fund the first year of a freeze on Thruway tolls that he hopes could continue through 2020. The governor would also like to eliminate tolls all together for some farm-related vehicles. Cuomo...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Supporters and opponents of a $15 minimum wage in New York are blasting reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers have reached a compromise that could stretch out the phase in period, and exempt farmers from the higher pay requirements. With the March 31 deadline looming, and the Easter holiday in between, Cuomo and the Senate and Assembly are trying to negotiate a compromise on the governor’s proposal to phase in a $15 minimum wage for New York state. Word spread of a possible deal...

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Top State University of New York officials say they want a tuition freeze at the state’s colleges and universities, and are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to adequately fund SUNY in the budget so that they don’t have to raise rates for students . The request comes as lawmakers are scrambling to meet a March 31 budget deadline. SUNY Board Chair Carl McCall says the university board and it’s chancellor don’t want to raise tuition, and they want Cuomo and the legislature to...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr


Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s working on a proposal to give New York farmers a break should the State Senate agree to a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Cuomo says he’s putting together a “special modification” for the agricultural industry to help offset potential costs of increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“There are special conditions on farms, we understand that,” Cuomo said after an event in Niagara Falls. “And we’re putting...

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