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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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Tensions between opposing groups of Democrats in the Senate reached a flash point this week over whose faction would be allowed to present their budget priorities for a floor debate in an exchange that included some racially charged name-calling.

A growing group of eight breakaway Democrats, who rule the Senate in an informal coalition with 31 Republicans, have left regular Democrats smarting for some time now.

Matt Ryan New York Now

The state Legislature’s one-house budgets make some changes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $163 million proposal to offer free tuition at public colleges in New York to some middle-class students.

Cuomo’s plan would have the state pay the tuition at public colleges and universities for students who have a combined family income of up to $125,000 a year when the plan is fully phased in in two years.

Karen DeWitt

The smallest faction in the divided state Senate, the Independent Democratic Conference, has been permitted by the ruling party Republicans to issue its own alternate spending plan. That has angered the rest of the Democrats.

Currently, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have the same amount of members – 31 each – but the Democrats are divided, with eight members in a breakaway group that forms an informal ruling coalition with the GOP.

Matt Ryan New York Now

UPDATE: Tuesday morning: Governor Cuomo has declared a ban on travel by Tractor Trailers on the entire New York State Thruway as well as interstates I-81, I-84, I-86/Route 17.

Cuomo also announced a full travel ban for all of Broome County.    PREVIOUS:

Governor Cuomo has declared a statewide state of emergency for the duration of the major Nor’easter expected to hit the state overnight.

Matt Ryan New York Now

The Senate and Assembly will release their one-house budgets early next week, as the March 31 deadline for a new spending plan draws near. They’ve already given some hints as to what the plans will include.

Senate Republicans are rejecting, for now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s extension of a tax on millionaires. They say they also are against pretty much all of the other taxes and fees in the governor’s budget, including a proposed new tax on internet purchases, a surcharge on prepaid cellphones and higher fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health department is analyzing the plan in the Republican Congress to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, and finds it carries a heavy price tag for New York. 

Karen DeWitt

Members of a leading senior citizens lobbying group are advocating for a retirement plan in New York that could benefit their children and grandchildren.

The proposal by AARP could help address a big change in employer practices that’s occurred since the group’s members – who are 50 and older – began their working lives. That is the sharp decline in companies that offer pensions, or even 401(k) retirement accounts, leaving younger workers with no opportunities at work to save for their retirement.

Karen DeWitt

A provision in the Affordable Care Act replacement plan by Republicans in Congress sets up a potential clash with New York state over abortion coverage. 

The plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by the GOP-led Congress includes tax credits for people to buy insurance policies. The Republican House plan forbids anyone from using the tax credits to buy an insurance plan that covers abortions.

Karen DeWitt

The state budget is due in 3 1/2 weeks, but the biggest push at the Capitol is for a change that is not a spending item. It’s a measure to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as children, not adults, when they are charged with serious crimes.

Many leading legislators say, for them, the issue is personal.

Those who support raising the age when New Yorkers are treated as adults in the criminal justice system from 16 to 18 held a rally Tuesday at the Capitol. Many of the leading Democrats in the Legislature spoke, including Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Disability rights advocates say they’re fed up with what they say is a lack of response from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on funding for services that help them stay in their communities, including a lack of funds to pay home health care workers adequate wages.

At a protest outside the governor’s offices Tuesday, Bruce Darling with the Center for Disability Rights displayed an award that the group fashioned for Cuomo that features a 5-inch gold screw on a trophy pedestal.

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