WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Karen DeWitt

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.

  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget office is temporarily withholding 20% of a state aid payment owed to several cities in New York, citing the COVID-19 pandemic-related revenue shortfall and budget deficit plaguing state government.

Cuomo and his budget director have been saying for months that if Congress does not provide another relief package for state and local governments hit hard by the effects of the pandemic, then the state will have to cut funding to schools, hospitals and cities by one-fifth.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are imposing mandatory quarantines for travelers from several states with high rates of the coronavirus, including Florida and Texas, effective midnight Wednesday.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was joined Wednesday via remote feeds by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. 

“We’re announcing today a joint travel advisory. People coming in from states that have a high infection rate must quarantine for 14 days,” Cuomo said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is contemplating a quarantine order on travelers to New York from other states with high rates of the coronavirus, including Florida.

Many of New York’s cities begin their new fiscal year July 1, and they are struggling to balance their budgets after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent protests in some cities are straining budgets even further.

Meanwhile, there’s a growing movement in the state Legislature to raise taxes on the wealthy to help balance the state’s budget and to help cities out.  

Cities across the state are facing a severe budget crunch, much of it due to the 2½-month shutdown of the economy and the corresponding loss of revenue.  

Western New York Sen. Robert Ortt is the New York State Senate's new minority leader.

Ortt replaces John Flanagan, who is leaving at the end of the month to be a lobbyist for Northwell Health. After 34 years in the Legislature, Flanagan announced earlier this year that he is not seeking re-election.  

Flanagan previously held the post of majority leader, but in 2018, Democrats took over the Senate after a century of nearly exclusive GOP rule. 

In his final daily coronavirus briefing Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s grateful that the virus is at an all-time low in New York, but he worries about rising infection rates elsewhere in the United States. 

The governor did not open his briefing to news media, and he did it without his usual PowerPoint presentation -- and without his staff. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ends over three months of continuous daily coronavirus briefings Friday. The briefings became a cultural phenomenon and made the governor nationally famous, as New Yorkers and many across America staying home to try to stop the spread of the virus tuned in to what became a daily ritual.

“The journey is over,” the governor said Thursday. “I hope the journey stays over.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this Friday, June 19 -- known as Juneteenth in honor of the end of slavery in the U.S. -- will be a holiday for state workers.

He also said he’ll work to make it a statewide holiday for 2021. 

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves were finally freed in Texas, the last state in the nation to comply with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

Cuomo said it’s even more important to honor the day in the era of worldwide protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.  

  

The chairs of the state legislative health committees are proposing a bill that would help protect the privacy of New Yorkers who give personal information to coronavirus contact tracers.

They say without the protections, the contact tracing system -- aimed at curbing the virus and avoiding future shutdowns -- won’t work. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that visitors will now be allowed for patients at hospitals and residents of group homes for the developmentally disabled. But nursing home visits remain off-limits for now. 

The governor made the announcement as data shows the COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates at their lowest points since the pandemic began. Twenty-four deaths were attributed to the coronavirus on Monday. 

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