Karen DeWitt

Albany Reporter

Ways To Connect

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A new poll finds Governor Andrew Cuomo with the lowest approval ratings since he took office, in a year where corruption scandals have dominated news at the Capitol.

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Governor Cuomo has been steering clear of public events at the State Capitol recently, after a second major party legislative leader, the head of the Senate was forced to resign over corruption charges. 

A near record number of school budgets were approved around the state in Tuesday’s vote. Many are attributing the relative lack of controversy to the three year old property tax cap that limits tax levy increases, as well as an increase in state aid.

Assembly Democrats are approving a one house bill to strengthen New York City’s rent regulations in favor of tenants. The rent law renewal and many other issues, including an education tax credit and the Dream Act, are in flux as the final weeks of deal making approaches. 

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The legislature will be finishing up its work in the next couple of weeks with two new legislative leaders- one in his third month, the other in just his second week on the job.

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Now that the leadership crisis in the Senate is settled, Governor Cuomo and the legislature are pushing their education priorities.

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The new leader of the State Senate, John Flanagan, replaced Dean Skelos, who is facing corruption charges. On Day Two in office, Flanagan says he does not expect any major new reform legislation to happen before the end of the session.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is coping with the breast cancer diagnosis and impending double mastectomy surgery of his longtime partner and cooking show celebrity Sandra Lee.

Karen DeWitt

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post over a corruption scandal and Republicans have elected Senator John Flanagan, currently chair of the Education Committee, to be his successor.

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Disagreements that have roiled the state’s education community in the wake of new teacher evaluation laws approved by Governor Cuomo and the legislature as part of the budget were highlighted at a day long summit called by education officials.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his first public comments since the leader of the State Senate was charged in an extortion and bribery scheme, says if true, he finds the accusations “disturbing.”

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Major newspapers have posted editorials calling for the Senate Leader, Dean Skelos, to resign after the Senator and his son have been accused of running a corruption scam. But so far, Skelos is hanging on, and Republicans are trying hard to carry on business as usual.

WBFO News photo from video clip of Skelos

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who turned himself in to federal authorities on corruption charges Monday, will remain as the head of the Senate, his republican members announced after a more than three hour closed door meeting Monday night.

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The leader of the State Senate, Dean Skelos, surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning and was charged with six counts of corruption, including bribery and extortion, in connection with an alleged scheme that used his political position to enrich himself and his son.

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The annual state report on lobbying is out, and it finds that $226 million dollars was spent on influencing government leaders, with the largest amount from education groups.


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The state legislature’s Black, Hispanic and Asians Caucus is reacting events in Baltimore and is calling for swift action on a package of criminal justice reforms that have been stalled in the State Senate.

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Governor Cuomo introduced a blue print for ending the AIDs epidemic in New York by 2020.

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There’s growing support in the state legislature to address controversial aspects of the state’s Common Core learning standards and related testing.

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Democrats in the State Senate are attempting to close a loophole in the state’s campaign finance laws, while a new poll finds New Yorkers want lawmakers to take more steps to quell corruption.

Less than a month after it was enacted, Governor Cuomo’s new teacher evaluation plan seems to be in jeopardy, with the Regents Chancellor calling for a year’s delay and a key Senator saying the legislature needs to revisit the issue.

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Earth Day 2015 is also the first day that the New York State Assembly transitioned to a paperless system. Assemblymembers have been given I Pads to read bills electronically, and supporters say it will save millions of dollars, and trees.

The final stretch of the legislative session began as more accusations arose about potential wrongdoing by top legislative leaders.

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The New York State Legislature returns for the second half of the legislative session, once again under a cloud of corruption, and with numerous unsettled issues.

The recently completed state budget was the first real test of the new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s leadership, who became the leader of that house in early February. 

Governor Cuomo and the state legislature approved some significant changes to the state’s education system and how teachers are evaluated going forward. But, before all that can be implemented ,the new system faces a big test, literally, later this month.

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The New York legislature completed an almost on time budget, around 3 a.m. on the first day of the state’s fiscal year. One of the final pieces to come together was an ethics reform package, which will provide greater disclosure of lawmaker’s outside income. But critics say it does not go far enough.

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Governor Cuomo began the budget season with an ambitious agenda than included a wide array of items that he tied to the budget, including raising the minimum wage, the Dream Act, and reforming the state’s grand jury process. In the end, the governor was forced to retrench on nearly every measure.

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Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a framework agreement for a budget deal late Sunday night and hope to begin passing bills Monday to meet the midnight Tuesday deadline.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

The state Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo continue to work on sticking points in the state budget, as yet another item has now been dropped from the spending plan, raising the state’s minimum wage.

Governor Cuomo and the legislature are considering a  commission to design a new teacher evaluation plan, in order to break an impasse over the state budget. But even some lawmakers admit that the compromise is just kicking the can down the road.

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