Karen DeWitt

Capitol Bureau Correspondent

 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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Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

ALBANY (WSKG) - Now that the US House of Representatives has voted for a tax overhaul plan that some state leaders say will harm New York, the action moves to the Senate, where a vote is expected after Thanksgiving. 

Karen DeWitt

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

Businesses, school leaders and progressive activists in New York also spoke out against the House vote and the provision to end the state and local tax deduction, saying they will be harmful to state residents.

The governor also criticized the tax plan as a corporate giveaway.

jason paris / flickr

ALBANY (WSKG) - 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.

Ryan Delaney / Innovation Trail

ALBANY (WSKG) - 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.

wallyg / Flickr

ALBANY (WSKG) - The state’s top economic development official says a plan in Congress to eliminate the historic tax credit program  would harm efforts to revitalize cities in New York.

Empire State Development Chair Howard Zemsky , testifying at an Assembly hearing,  says the tax incentives have been used to rehab crumbling historic buildings into shops and living spaces, and “have had a huge impact on driving economic development” . The program gives developers a tax rebate of 20% for five years after the projects are completed. Zemsky says it’s misguided to end the subsidies.

Matt Ryan, WMHT

ALBANY (WSKG) - 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.

Courtesy of Rob Astorino

ALBANY (WSKG) 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.

AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, File

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.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

ALBANY (WSKG) - Governor Cuomo, one day after Democratic victories in elections in New York State and the nation, is calling on  warring democratic factions in the State Senate to unify. 

Cuomo used some of his strongest language yet in urging rank and file Democrats in the State Senate to reunite with the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, saying all need to put their “egos” aside.

Karen DeWitt

Governor Cuomo and New York Senator Chuck Schumer 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% 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.  

“The plan will increase taxes on New Yorkers by $16 billion,” Schumer said in a joint conference call with Cuomo.

Carl Mikoy / Flickr

Polls are open 6:00AM - 9:00PM.

There are three propositions on the ballot:

ALBANY (WSKG) - A new poll finds that the ballot question on whether to hold a constitutional convention in New York has become widely unpopular with voters. 

The Siena College poll finds likely voters in the Nov. 7 elections are leaning against Proposition One “by a better than two-to-one margin,” said Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg.

AP Photo/Richard Drew

ALBANY (WSKG) - Wall Street profits are up by one third over the same period last year, says the New York State Comptroller. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says the gain of  $12.3 billion dollars is good news for New Yorkers with retirement accounts invested in the market, as well as the state’s pension fund.

AP PHOTO/RICH PEDRONCELLI

ALBANY (WSKG) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a conference call with California Gov. Jerry Brown, singled out two New York GOP congressmen for criticism after they voted for a budget measure that clears the way for a vote on the Republican plan to overhaul the tax system.

Cuomo has been speaking out nearly every day against a proposal in the federal tax overhaul plan to eliminate state and local tax deductions from federal income tax filings. He calls it double taxation and a political attack on New York.

Mike Groll / AP Photo

ALBANY (WSKG) - 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.

Governor 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 says the uncertainty over what will happen in Washington on health care funding and on major tax changes is making it hard to plan.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File

ALBANY (WSKG) - 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 says is a “sneaky and underhanded” rule regarding the question on Proposition One- whether New York should hold a Constitutional Convention.

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File

ALBANY (WSKG) - New Yorkers who use e-cigarettes will have to comply with the same limits on smoking in public that apply to regular cigarettes, now that Governor 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. 

SUNY

The Chancellor of the State University of New York is defending a SUNY board committee’s decision to lower some requirements for teachers at some charter schools. 

Karen DeWitt

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.

“We’re 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.”

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

ALBANY (WSKG) - Governor Cuomo joined other New York Democrats in condemning the federal tax overhaul plan in the wake of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Western New York.  

Cuomo, also speaking in Buffalo where the VP was  attending a fundraiser for Representative Chris Collins, said a provision in the tax overhaul to eliminate deductibility for state and local taxes would deliver a “death blow” to New York. He says it would result in “double taxation” and be a windfall for other states at New York’s expense.

Ryan Delaney / Innovation Trail

ALBANY (WSKG) - The state’s Comptroller is siding with Governor Cuomo over concerns that federal health care cuts will damage New York’s budget, but he says the governor’s budget experts should have saved more money in rainy day funds. 

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

Al Powers/Invision/AP, File

Governor 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 re lection 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.

Karen DeWitt

ALBANY (WSKG) - The State Comptroller has announced that New York joins 28 other states in offering a program that will help people disabled children save money for their future. 

Old Shoe Woman / flickr

ALBANY (WSKG) - Some of the state’s top-ranking education officials are condemning a vote by a State University of New York committee that would weaken regulations for teachers at some charter schools. 

The controversial proposal approved by the SUNY Charter Schools Committee is slightly different than an earlier one. Now, instead of requiring as little as 30 hours of classroom experience in order to be eligible to teach in a charter school, 40 hours are required, as part of a total of 160 hours of classroom related instruction.

Karen DeWitt

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.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

ALBANY (WSKG) - 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.

Governor Cuomo's Office

ALBANY (WSKG) - Governor Andrew Cuomo weighed in on the controversy over Christopher Columbus when he  marched in New York City’s annual Columbus Day parade.  

Cuomo, who referred to the day’s celebration not as Columbus Day but as Italian- American Day, was asked by reporters about the growing movement to pull down some statues of Christopher Columbus in New York.  The governor says he “rejects the negativity” behind the cause. And he says honoring Columbus and honoring indigenous peoples are not two opposing viewpoints.

ALBANY (WSKG) - A new poll finds waning support for a constitutional convention in New York. The issue is on the ballot in November.

The Siena College poll finds that enthusiasm for a constitutional convention has dropped since the summer, with more people now saying they would vote against it, although a plurality still backs the idea.

AP Photo/Allen Breed

ALBANY (WSKG) - Governor Cuomo, who championed strict new gun control laws in New York after the 2012 Newtown Connecticut shootings killed 20 children, says national gun policy is “insanity” , and “disgusting”. 

Cuomo criticized President Trump and other national Republican leaders who say now is not the time to talk about gun control so quickly after the Las Vegas shooting, saying that attitude is “ludicrous”.

governorandrewcuomo/Flickr

ALBANY (WSKG) - Governor Cuomo is in Puerto Rico today, assessing damage after hurricane Maria, and bringing some initial supplies to the country. Cuomo spoke just before taking off from JFK airport in a fully loaded plane provided by Jet Blue.

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