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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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.

Tom Magnarelli, WRVO

ALBANY (WSKG) - Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is considering a possible challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary for the 2018 governor’s race. Miner said if she does run for governor, it won’t be a conventional campaign.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New Yorkers who use the state Thruway will have a bit of a wait before more cashless tolling is installed on the nearly 500-mile tolled portion of the road.

The Cuomo administration’s Thruway Authority has adopted cashless tolls at the new Tappan Zee Bridge and will take down the toll booths on the Grand Island Bridge in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area early next year.

There already is an option for cashless tolling at the Woodbury exit of the Thruway in the lower Hudson Valley, although toll booths still exist as an alternative.

The state Board of Regents is taking steps to make it easier for teachers to become certified in New York. But the state education commissioner denies that it’s a lessening of requirements.

GOVERNOR.NY.GOV

ALBANY (WSKG) - Andrew Cuomo, in what has become an annual event for the New York governor, led a motorcycle ride along the path of a New York City firefighter rescue team to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Mike Groll / AP Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner received a grilling from state senators at a hearing this week on whether New York is doing enough to combat tick-borne illnesses.

Health Commissioner Howard Zucker told the senators that this year, there are fewer deer ticks and fewer reported cases of Lyme disease in the state.

But, he said, the number of Lone Star ticks is up. They can carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and even cause someone to become allergic to eating red meat.

New York NOW

A former EPA administrator and a former New York state health department official have teamed up with a Vermont college to conduct a health survey of people potentially affected by polluted water in the villages of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, and in Bennington, Vermont. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News.

A left-leaning group is asking the state’s top politicians to give back donations from a hedge fund manager who made racially charged comments against New York’s only black female legislative leader. But so far, most — including Gov. Andrew Cuomo — have held on to the money. 

Daniel Loeb, the founder and chief executive of the multi-billion-dollar hedge fund Third Point LLC, received attention when, in a Facebook post, he compared the leader of the state Senate Democrats, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, to the Ku Klux Klan.

sayholatotravis / Flickr


The State University of New York board members overseeing charter schools are in the midst of a public comment period on whether charter school teachers should be allowed to have fewer qualifications than public school teachers.

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to open on Thursday the first span of the new Thruway bridge over the Hudson River, known as the Tappan Zee Bridge and to be renamed the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge.

But questions still linger over how, ultimately, the bridge will be paid for.

Cuomo has been reluctant to divulge details on how the tolls on the bridge will be affected after the multi-billion-dollar project to replace the over three-mile-long span is completed.

Fort Worth Squatch / Flickr


The results of this year’s Common Core-related standardized tests show scores for New York’s schoolchildren inching up. 

audiolucistore / Flickr

Teachers across New York State are gearing up for the start of the new school year. However, the President of the state’s teachers union - New York State United Teachers’ Andy Pallotta - said controversy over the Common Core learning standards is not quite over yet.

Karen DeWitt

 

Carl Paladino has been removed from the Buffalo Board of Education in a ruling by the state education commissioner issued Thursday.

Charles Lane / WSHU

New Yorkers who sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act exchanges for individuals will see their premiums rise by an average of 14 percent, now that the Cuomo administration has approved rate increases for insurers in the exchanges.

Part of the increase is due to worries and uncertainties over the future of the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

Mike Groll / AP Photo

There’s growing pressure on a group of breakaway Democrats in the state Senate to reunite with the mainstream Democrats and form a majority to rule the Senate. 

At a rally in Harlem, many of the state’s top African-American politicians, chanting “Andrea, Andrea,” voiced their support for the current leader of Senate Democrats, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, to become the majority leader of the Senate.

Mike Groll / AP Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law a measure that would create new penalties for people who make bomb threats against community centers. The action stems from bomb threats made to Jewish community centers in New York and around the nation last winter. 

Karen DeWitt / WXXI

The U.S. Senate plans to use procedural maneuvers to technically stay in session even when senators eventually go home for the Labor Day recess. Their intent is to prevent President Donald Trump from making any unwelcome recess appointments while they are away.

New York Now

The former EPA regional administrator under President Barack Obama said scientists who leaked the report about further evidence of climate change to The New York Times should be commended as“whistleblowers.” 

AndrewRosenthal / Flickr

The New York Board of Elections quietly voted this week to turn over some data about New York’s voters to a Trump administration panel looking at whether there was mass voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election.

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