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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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DEC Commissioner Joe Martens estimates the agency has received 40,000  comments in the public comment period  which just ended on January 11th on a draft environmental impact study to permit hydro fracking on some private lands in New York State.

Martens says a team of 58 staffers, mostly engineers, will go over all of the documents, and will shortly post all of them on the DEC website.

 

Things got a little heated at a meeting of a legislative task force on redrawing new district lines, when the Senate Democrat’s representative complained he’d been left in the dark about the creation of 63rd Senate district by Republicans.  Senator Martin Dilan condemned part of the process  as a “farce” and “waste of money”.

 

The legislative task force on redistricting met for the first time since Republicans, who are in charge of the Senate, announced that they would be seeking an additional 63rd Senate seat in the new district maps.

 

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is defending his Republican Majority’s proposal to expand the Senate to 63 seats, while Senate Democrats are condemning the move.

Over the weekend, Senate Republicans posted a memo on  the legislature’s redistricting website from their legal counsel, justifying the creation of a 63rd Senate seat in the reconfiguring of district lines. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says the extra district is legal, based on methodologies that were used ten years ago that withstood a court challenge.

Governor Cuomo, in his state of the state message, called for public financing of campaigns, based on a model currently in use in New York City.  Supporters,  including those who have studied the model as well as public finance systems in other states, believe it can work.

Cuomo would like to model the state’s system on the  New York City campaign finance system, which offers candidates matching funds, once they have solicited small contributions from individual donors.

 

In his State of the State speech, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a new commission to reevaluate the state’s education system.  One day later, it’s receiving a mixed response.

 

Cuomo set up a potential fight with the education establishment during an otherwise mostly congenial State of the State speech, when he chided them for what he says is putting their own interests before those of school children. He told the crowd that superintendents, principles, teachers, and janitors have their own lobbyists.

 

Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered a State of the State message that focuses on job creation, through infrastructure repair, expanded gambling, and energy improvements. The governor will also take on the education community in his second year in office, demanding greater accountability.

Cuomo, as part of his growth and jobs agenda, proposes building the largest convention center in the nation to promote tourism. He would replace the Javitts Center in Manhattan, with a larger venue at the Aqueduct race track in Queens.

Governor Cuomo will deliver his second State of the State message Wednesday. The governor faces continued budget deficits, and a soft economy as well as a looming redistricting deadline.

 Cuomo is expected to follow up on priorities he began during his very busy first year in office. He will likely try to close a remaining $2 billion dollar budget gap without raising any new taxes. In December, the governor agreed to increase taxes on New Yorkers making over $2 million dollars a year to gain needed revenue, and at the time said he did not endorse any further new taxes in 2012.

State lawmakers have still not made public their new proposed maps for redrawn legislative districts, but the Senate Majority Leader says it’s likely a new 63rd district will be created.

The number of Senators has been at an even 62 for the past decade,  which helped lead to the 2009 coup attempt and month long stalemate, when Senators evenly divided between two opposing factions. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says the additional district is likely to be included in new legislative district maps that he says will be released within the next few weeks.

The head of a major state worker union is warning Governor Cuomo not to ask state workers for more givebacks in the new state budget.

The President of the Public Employees Federation, Ken Brynien, says he’s drawing a line in the sand with Governor Cuomo, and has asked the governor not to expect more givebacks from state worker unions.

“I told him you can’t come back to us for anything else,” said Brynien.  “You’ve got as much as you are going to get, you’ve got to look elsewhere.”

Governor Cuomo achieved a number of goals in his first year as governor, but Cuomo does not intend to rest easy during the upcoming  second year of his term.

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