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

The leader of the Senate Republicans said he’s not happy with what he said is over $800 million in new taxes and fees tucked away in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new state budget.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said he’s upset over about new proposed fees that a preliminary analysis shows total $803 million – with $250 million in new Department of Motor Vehicles fees alone.

Flanagan said he’s also not happy with the way Cuomo presented his spending plan to lawmakers. He said Cuomo failed to mention all of the new fees in a private briefing at the executive mansion.

One of the chief arguments over the state budget will be whether to renew an income tax surcharge on New York’s wealthiest.

The state is facing a $3.5 billion deficit, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to add a billion dollars to the state’s public schools. He also wants to offer free tuition at public colleges for families making less than $125,000 a year.

Cuomo said continuing the tax surcharge — known as the millionaires’ tax — is the simplest way to finance all that.

“Frankly we don’t have the resources to lose the millionaires’ revenue now,” Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo's office

One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature economic development programs is being downsized in his new state budget. Start-Up NY is being rebranded as other economic development projects have suffered setbacks.

The Start-Up NY program — which offered 10 years of freedom from income, business and other taxes to companies that sought to begin a business on a college campus — initially was a centerpiece of Cuomo’s big plans for more jobs in upstate New York.

NPR

School funding advocates are concerned that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is setting up for another political battle over school aid next year in a little-noticed provision in his new state budget.

Tim Kremer is with the School Boards Association, one of the groups worried about Cuomo’s proposal to end what’s known as the foundation aid formula in 2018. The formula was set up to address a decade-old court order known as the Campaign for Fiscal Equity that said the state was underfunding schools by billions of dollars.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget is not just facts and figures about what taxes to collect and how to spend them. Cuomo also has put unrelated changes into the spending plan — everything from allowing ride-hailing services to expand in the state to enacting ethics reforms.

From allowing Uber and Lyft outside of New York City to imposing term limits on lawmakers, the governor’s budget includes many items that normally would be considered policy changes and debated and approved in the regular part of the session.

Some state lawmakers are rejecting a proposal in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plan that would extend a tax on millionaires.

Cuomo spent Tuesday rolling out his spending plan to individual groups of lawmakers in private briefings; he released details to the public that night.

The governor fulfilled the state’s constitutional deadline to release his budget to the public, but just barely, opting for an evening unveiling of the $152 billion spending plan.

Some state lawmakers are rejecting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal to extend a tax on millionaires.

The spending plan was outlined to some lawmakers at a lunch at the governor’s mansion, but won’t be available to the public until later this evening.

Senate Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan said he’s against a plan by Cuomo to once again extend the tax.

“I like cutting taxes,” Flanagan said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is due to release his budget Tuesday. Revenues are down, and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act could cost the state billions of dollars.

So what should residents expect?

We already know that Cuomo wants to spend more money on schools this year; he said so several times in his six State of the State speeches. 

“We will increase funding for education to a new record level, all-time high all across the state,” Cuomo promised in New York City on Jan. 9.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is due to release his budget on Tuesday, and agencies that work with those with intellectual disabilities are among those hoping for more funds. They say they need help to pay workers the new higher minimum wage.

New York’s minimum wage is going up over the next few years, to $15 eventually in New York City and lesser amounts upstate. Groups that provide services for the developmentally disabled rely on Medicaid reimbursements to pay their workers, and they say they’ll have a hard time meeting the higher wages without more money from the state.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ended his six-city State of the State tour, speaking for nine hours total, according to his estimates, and traveling over 1,200 miles — with one emergency helicopter landing thrown in for good measure.

But the departure from the traditional speech before lawmakers at the Capitol has its advantages and its drawbacks.

The governor began the multi-day rollout of his agenda right after the winter holidays during an appearance with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is still popular among New Yorkers on the left after his presidential campaign.

Pages