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

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders have released the names of their appointments to the newest version of the state ethics commission Monday. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE, by law begins its work on Tuesday.  

Governor Cuomo named Janet DiFiore, the District Attorney of Westchester County, to chair the commission. He also appointed Seymour Knox the IV, who is VP of Corporate Relations for the Buffalo Sabres, as well as the chair of a private equity firm, and Mitra Hormozi, who worked for Cuomo when he was Attorney General.   

When Governor Cuomo convinced the legislature to pass a new temporary income tax surcharge on New York’s wealthiest, it was an abrupt policy change from the anti tax views that the governor had advocated as recently as October. But, As Karen DeWitt reports Cuomo’s reversal will likely do him more political good than harm.

Governor Cuomo, in his first day on the job back on January 1st of this year, laid out his position on raising taxes pretty clearly.

“I say no new taxes, period,” Cuomo said on January 1.

One day after Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced major changes in the state’s tax code, lawmakers, who are voting on the measure, are busy portraying the deal in the best possible light.

Senators and Assemblymembers were set to vote on bills that would raise rates on New Yorkers earning more than $2 million dollars a year for the next three years, but would slightly lower the tax rates for the middle class permanently.

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced a deal to raise taxes on the rich, and slightly lower taxes for the middle class.

Cuomo, who for months resisted renewing New York’s temporary income tax surcharge on the wealthy, saying it would hurt the state’s competitive edge for business, has now changed his mind.

 He says he and legislative leaders have agreed to once again temporarily raise taxes on the rich, with a new higher tax bracket for those making over $2 million dollars a year.

Talks are taking place behind the scenes on changes to New York’s tax code that could result in the wealthy paying higher taxes.  Governor Cuomo, who is asking for the changes, is also proposing a gambling expansion and  other initiatives which he is asking the state legislature to consider later this week.

The gaps in the New York State budget, for the current year and the new fiscal year, are widening.  Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers are considering a number of options, including a special session, and revamping  the state’s tax code a means of generating more money for state coffers.

Governor Cuomo’s budget office broke the bad news recently.  The budget deficit for the current fiscal year had grown to $350 million dollars, and the projected gap for the new fiscal year would be a $3.5 billion dollar hole, if spending were to take place as planned.

The state’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, says a statewide undercover operation found blatant violations of the state’s law requiring background checks before the sale of a hand gun.

 

A report by a policy think tank finds that 500,000 job opportunities were lost in New York in the three year long economic slump, representing a total income loss of $31 billion dollars a year. 

Protesters at the Occupy Albany encampment say they will no longer provoke nightly arrests by the New York State police, but they do intend to focus on state policy issues, like their opposition to the expiration of a tax on millionaires, set to expire at the end of the year. 

Deliberations over drawing new legislative and congressional districts continue in Albany, as legislators have hit a new hurdle in the complex process. 

Lawmakers have decided where to count the prisoners, in the homes they were living before their incarceration, a change that benefits the districts of many Democrats at the expense of Republicans. But they are still arguing about how to count the prisoners, and what kind of computer software and database to use. Task force Co Chair, Assemblyman Jack McEneny, a Democrat, offered an amendment, but it was rejected by GOP lawmakers .

Pages