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 director said 30-day amendments to the governor’s spending plan, which is due out later this week, will include an overhaul of the state’s tax code. It will include plans to ease the effects of the loss of the state and local tax deductions in the new federal tax overhaul.

Robert Mujica said the governor will propose a payroll tax credit program that businesses could use instead of the state and local income tax system.

He said for workers who have to pay more in taxes under the federal overhaul, this could help make them whole. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to call for special elections to be held April 24 to fill two empty Senate seats, according to a state official who confirmed the date. The news is fueling hopes among Senate Democrats that they can gain control of the chamber before the end of the session.

A third Republican candidate has announced his intention to run for governor against Democrat Andrew Cuomo. Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco said he thinks it’s time for a change.

DeFrancisco, who is currently the deputy majority leader, said eight years of Andrew Cuomo is a long time, and someone new needs to take over.

“My real feeling is that enough is enough,” DeFrancisco said. “I’ve got the fire in my belly and I’m going to go for it.”

The head of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs said he doesn’t think federal corruption trials now taking place will have any effect on the projects.

Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, is on trial in federal district court in Manhattan, charged with engineering two bribery schemes. One of the companies accused of participating in the crimes received funding through the state’s economic development programs. The two top leaders of COR Development are co-defendants in the trial.

The prosecution and defense offered two very different versions of events in the trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco and three business associates in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Much of the prosecution’s case will hinge on the testimony of another former associate, Todd Howe, who pleaded guilty to several felonies and will be the government’s star witness.

On Monday, the first of a series of federal corruption trials begins for several former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The proceedings in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan will focus on bribery and other charges against Cuomo’s former closest aide, Joe Percoco. 

Percoco worked for Cuomo and his father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, on and off since Percoco was a teenager. Mario Cuomo once referred to Percoco as his “third son.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing an increase in school aid of over three-quarters of a billion dollars, a rise of about 3 percent over last year, but some say that’s not enough to meet school districts’ rising costs.

The $769 million hike is about half of the increase that schools ultimately received in last year’s budget. Cuomo, in his budget presentation to the state Legislature, said he anticipates some blowback.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced legislation to end what’s known as the carried interest loophole, a measure long sought by the left of the governor’s Democratic Party. 

Under Cuomo’s bill, carried interest — which is essentially income for partners of hedge funds and other private investment companies — would have to be taxed at the same rate as income. Currently, it is assessed at the lower rate of the capital gains tax.

State Senator Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, spoke publicly for the first time since an investigation has begun into allegations that he sexually harassed a female staffer.

Klein, who has denied that he forcibly kissed a former female staffer in 2015, says an investigation has begun by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE. The leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate says he’ll fully cooperate.

“I expect to be vindicated,” Klein said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $168 billion budget plan that would close an over $4 billion gap by reducing some spending and imposing tax increases on health insurers, big businesses and prescription opioid users, among others. Cuomo said he also wants to look into legalizing marijuana in New York.

“This is going to be challenging, my friends,” Cuomo told lawmakers gathered at the state museum for the budget presentation.

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