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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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Twenty state and national groups supporting a bill that would strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Law are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the measure into law as soon as he receives it from the state Legislature.

The bill, approved by the Senate and the Assembly in June, said if a court finds that a state agency unreasonably dragged its feet answering a Freedom of Information request, a judge could require the agency to pay the attorney’s fees for the person or group who made the FOIL request.

New York Now

A state Assemblyman has been sanctioned by the Assembly Ethics Committee for allegedly sexually harassing a staff member. Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin denies the charges and has asked for a criminal investigation of the ethics committee itself.

The complaint against McLaughlin stems from a June 2016 complaint from a female staffer, who said the Republican from Rensselaer County made lewd comments to her and asked to see nude photos of her. McLaughlin also is accused of releasing the name of the staff member, then lying about it.

The state Democratic Party, led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is offering carrots and sticks to two rival factions of Democrats in the state Senate in an effort to get them to reunite and potentially rule the chamber.

The Congressional Budget Office report released Sunday finds that the Senate tax overhaul bill harms the poorest Americans even more than originally thought. 

The CBO finds that Americans making $30,000 or less would be worse off under the Senate tax plan by 2019. Those earning $40,000 or less would be net losers under the plan by 2021. And by 2027, U.S residents who make $75,000 or lower would be worse off under the plan.

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.

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.

“This is a federal scam that they are running,” Cuomo said. “They call it a tax cut for the middle class. That’s baloney.”

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.

Matt Ryan New York Now

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.

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.

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.

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