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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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A residency requirement for college students seeking free tuition at New York’s public colleges is drawing criticism. Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended the late addition to the plan, approved as part of the state budget earlier this month.

Cuomo proudly touted the free tuition program for some middle-class students passed in the week-late state budget, appearing with former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at LaGuardia Community College in Queens on April 12.

Governor Cuomo and New York State lawmakers missed the budget deadline after they failed to solidify deals on state spending and taxation, as well as some unrelated items like permitting ride hailing services outside of New York City.

Midnight Friday is not just the deadline for the state budget to be finished. It’s also the date for an $8 billion bailout of some upstate nuclear power plants to begin, and more than 80 local government leaders are making a last-ditch effort to stop a plan that they say will cost electric utility ratepayers billions of dollars.

In the summer of 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Public Service Commission announced a deal to provide nearly $8 billion to help Exelon, which owns two upstate nuclear power plants, buy a third one and keep them all running for another 12 years.

Karen DeWitt

Deals on some issues tied to the state budget are coming together as lawmakers rush to meet the budget deadline. 

Agreements on permitting ride-hailing services outside New York City and a measure to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles in the court and prison system, known as Raise the Age, were coming together Thursday.

New York’s Democratic congressional delegation is pressing a measure to prevent federal Medicaid funding cuts to the state.

Several Democratic congressional members, along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, want the state to take over the cost of counties’ Medicaid bills, but want the federal government to provide the $2.3 billion to pay for it.

“This is about fundamental fairness,” said Cuomo, who noted the state gives more money in tax dollars to Washington than it gets back in services.

With lawmakers in Albany preoccupied with getting the budget done by week’s end, groups have to get creative to gain attention. Supporters of spending for public defense for the poor came up with one way: a “Wheel of Fortune”-style game staged right in the middle of the action.

The New York Civil Liberties Union chose a busy corridor in the Capitol between lawmakers’ offices and the Senate and Assembly chambers to hold a contest featuring a brightly colored wheel styled after the one on the iconic television show.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning that the state might not be able to add more money for schools this year because of uncertainties in Washington over federal funding.

Just days before the state budget is due, Cuomo is urging the state Legislature to pull back on additional spending for school districts beyond the $1 billion increase he’s already proposed, saying there’s too much uncertainty over federal funding right now.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders plan to meet all week, but no agreements are finalized yet on a state budget that’s due Friday.

Cuomo and the state Legislature have not yet nailed down a budget deal that could include an extension of a tax on millionaires, more tuition aid for middle-class college students and more spending on clean water infrastructure. They continue to meet — together, and in their separate party conferences — behind closed doors.

Karen DeWitt

Several proposals in Washington, including the changes to the Affordable Health Care Act, could mean multi-billion-dollar budget gaps for New York state. With the budget due in one week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders think that at the very least, they may have to come back later in the year to revise the spending plan.

With just over a week to go before the budget deadline, Cuomo for the first time hinted that the spending plan might not be completed on time because of the uncertainty about future federal funding.

Matt Ryan New York Now

Another sitting state legislator, Sen. Rob Ortt, has been indicted on corruption charges, along with George Maziarz, who held the western New York Senate seat before him. The indictments come as ethics reform proposals in the state budget are faltering.

Ortt is accused of creating a no-show job for his wife to pad his own salary while he was mayor of North Tonawanda in Niagara County.

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