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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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Assembly Democrats grilled Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s energy officials for more than four hours Monday about a plan executed by the Public Service Commission and a major energy company that will keep three upstate nuclear power plants alive for the next 12 years.

Utility ratepayers, mostly from downstate, will pay for the deal through a surcharge on their bills.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, chairman of the Environmental Committee, said he’s “very disappointed” in what he said was an opaque process hastily decided last summer that ratepayers ultimately will have to finance.

WRVO Public Media

President Donald Trump’s tax cut plan is so far just a one-page outline, but it’s already raising some red flags for New York’s political leaders. 

The plan would slash corporate taxes and nearly double the standard deduction for married couples to $24,000.

But the proposal also would eliminate the practice of deducting state income taxes and local property taxes from federal income taxes, and that could harm taxpayers in states with high local taxes, like New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been worried about the potential change for a while.

A bill that could address corruption in Albany is progressing in the state Legislature, but it might not be the measure that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to become law.

Several former Cuomo associates, including a former top aide, face federal corruption trials on charges of bribery and bid-rigging in connection with the contracts for some of the governor’s signature economic development projects, including the Buffalo Billion.

Karen DeWitt

Several New York state lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that they say would force President Donald Trump to make his state tax returns public.

Trump broke with a more than 40-year tradition of presidential candidates and presidents voluntarily releasing their tax returns. Trump has said he can’t release his returns because he is under audit.

In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon began the practice of releasing the tax filings, even though Nixon himself was under federal audit at the time. Since then, every president has voluntarily released his tax returns.

State lawmakers and lobby groups say Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in error when he said that there was no political will to enact reforms in 2017.

Democratic lawmakers, along with the League of Women Voters, rallied outside the Senate chambers Tuesday for bills that would allow same-day voting and early voting by mail in New York state.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the most recent presidential election should serve as a “wake-up call” about the importance of voting and access to polling machines.

Matt Ryan New York Now

A fiscal watchdog group is questioning the state’s century-old prevailing wage law for construction workers, saying it unnecessarily costs taxpayers billions of dollars a year in added expenses for big road, bridge and other projects.

The Empire Center, a fiscally conservative budget watchdog group, looked at the state’s constitutionally protected prevailing wage law. It requires contractors on public projects to pay their workers the amounts set in unions’ collective bargaining agreements.

State legislators are due back at the Capitol Monday, following a break for Easter and Passover after they passed the new state budget. It contained numerous non-spending items -- like free public college tuition for some middle class students and an expansion of ride-hailing services. So what, if anything, do lawmakers still need to do before adjourning in June?

The Senate and Assembly are scheduled to meet for around two more months this year, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking a week after the budget was approved, told reporters that there isn’t much left to do.

Environmental advocates say that New York State officials could do a better job of cleaning up pollution sites caused by the fossil fuels industry that they say in some cases, have dragged on for decades. Cuomo’s environmental aides defend their record.

An Ithaca based environmental research group analyzed data on dozens of alleged toxic spills for just one company- Exxon Mobil.

After a week of criticism from the left and the right of the political spectrum, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget director is among those defending the state’s new free public college tuition program for some middle-class students.

Conservatives say Cuomo was just trying to win a headline for a potential 2020 presidential campaign by convincing the state Legislature to enact a plan to offer free tuition to middle-class students attending public colleges and universities.

Matt Ryan New York Now

Did passage of the state budget signal the end of Albany’s legislative session for 2017, or will other matters, including ethics reform, get done before the lawmakers adjourn in June?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the recently enacted state budget included the majority of the priorities that he named in his January State of the State message, including raising the age for adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18, providing free public college tuition for some middle-class families and allowing ride-hailing services to operate upstate.

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