WXXI AM News

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.

Ways to Connect

New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, was officially nominated for re-election Friday at a meeting of the State Democratic Party in Albany, where she said she will serve out her entire six-year term if she wins the race in November.

Gillibrand, who was unanimously nominated to run for a second full term, focused her speech in part on Democratic frustrations over lack of gun control laws in Washington in the aftermath of the Florida high school mass shooting.  She said Americans are being “slaughtered,” and Congress is “turning a blind eye.”

Some Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a measure that would make anonymous political ads on Facebook and other social media illegal. They say the ads are being abused to falsely represent their positions on issues.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat, said there’s been a lot of publicity about Russian operatives using Facebook and other social media to influence the 2016 presidential race. But he said it’s also happening in New York races, and it needs to stop.

“It’s undermining our democracy,” Kaminsky said.

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.

The head of the state’s Republican Party has filed a formal complaint with the state’s public ethics commission, alleging that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his top aide — Joe Percoco, now on trial for bribery — broke the state’s public officers law.

The letter, written by State GOP Chair Ed Cox, cites evidence presented in the federal corruption trial of Cuomo’s former top aide. It shows Percoco frequented his former state offices, adjacent to Cuomo’s offices, while Percoco was off the state payroll and managing Cuomo’s 2014 re-election campaign.

Karen DeWitt

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.

Cuomo’s budget director on Monday previewed the plans, which will be released as part of the 30-day amendments to the governor’s state budget proposal. Robert Mujica said if changes aren’t made to mitigate the cap on deductions for property, state and local income taxes, higher-income New Yorkers will move out of state.

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.

He said for workers who have to pay more in taxes under the federal overhaul, this could help make them whole. 

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.

Matt Ryan, New York Now

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.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

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.

Pages