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.

The state comptroller has come out with revenue projections that will limit the ability to spend more money in the state budget. Under law, the governor and Legislature have to abide by those numbers — but that hasn’t stopped interest groups and some lawmakers from saying that they will increase spending.

There were some emotional moments when lawmakers and supporters of a school funding measure rallied at the Capitol Tuesday. They were there to advocate for $4 billion - money they say has long been owed to them under an order by the state’s highest court.

Miriam Aristy-Farer began helping hold fundraisers for the elementary school in her Washington Heights neighborhood when her son was small, and she saw that the district lacked art and music teachers, and special assistance for children with autism.

Economists and financial forecasters, speaking at the state Capitol as part of an annual consensus forecast meeting on the state budget, are warning of an impending recession in New York and the nation. The state is already experiencing some warning signs, with the governor’s budget office predicting a $2.6 billion dollar deficit.

Governor Cuomo signed a new anti gun violence measure into law Monday, at a ceremony attended by survivors of gun violence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The measure, approved by the Democratic led Senate and Assembly earlier this month, creates what’s known as an “extreme risk” protection order. It permits law enforcement, family members and school officials to go to court to seek the confiscation of the guns in the home of an individual that is determined to be a potential risk to themselves or to others.

A week after the Amazon deal in Queens died, New York lawmakers want states to agree to stop using taxpayer money to lure big businesses.

The legislators are proposing a measure that would form an interstate compact to end what they call excessive “corporate welfare” for large companies.

Among the sponsors is Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, a leading opponent of the Amazon deal. It would have located part of a second headquarters for the giant online retailer in his district, in exchange for $3 billion in government subsidies.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says changes to the federal tax code led to a growing state deficit and is causing some high-income earners to leave the state. But progressive groups, some Democratic state legislators and even some millionaires are pushing back against that assertion, saying there’s no hard evidence that any wealthy New Yorkers are leaving.

Amazon has announced it is pulling its plan to build a second headquarters in New York City, citing opposition by some state and local politicians.

The company, in a statement, said “after much thought and deliberation,” it has decided not to move forward with plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens.

The statement pointed out that a recent poll showed 70 percent of New Yorkers wanted the project, but Amazon said “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the Child Victims Act, which gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse more access to pursue their abusers in court.

The bill had languished at the Capitol for years until Democrats took control of the state Senate from Republicans and joined the Assembly in approving the measure.

It extends the statute of limitations to report crimes of childhood sexual abuse from 23 to 28.The limit for civil suits is age 55.  All survivors get a one-year “lookback” window to bring civil  court cases against those they say abused them.

During the first hearing on sexual harassment in New York’s government in 27 years, state lawmakers closely scrutinized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s policies on the issue, as victims told harrowing stories about their experiences.

Survivors of sexual harassment by senators and Assembly members spoke before the hearing, saying they’re relieved there is finally a public forum to talk about improving the state’s anti-sexual harassment laws.

The New York State Senate began a series of hearings on climate change Tuesday. Democrats who lead the chamber back a measure to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions in New York by 2050, but that may come into conflict with a program being pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo featured in his 2019 State of the State message a plan to require that 100 percent of the electric generated from the state's public utilities come from renewable sources by 2040.

“Let’s take the next step,” Cuomo said on Jan. 15.

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