Karen DeWitt

Albany Reporter

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.

DeWitt 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 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

DeWitt has served as a panelist for numerous political debates, including the 2014 gubernatorial debate sponsored by WNED|WBFO

Ways to Connect

Governor's Office

There was a somber tone to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10th State of the State message in a year where the state is facing a $6 billion deficit and reeling from a recent spate of hate crimes, including a stabbing incident at a rabbi’s house outside New York City.

WBFO file photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to deliver his State of the State message on Wednesday, at a time when New York faces its worst budget deficit in a decade. WBFO will provide live coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m.


Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Minority party Republicans in the New York State Assembly have a new leader. The change comes as new details become public about the DWI arrest of his predecessor.

Among some top state Democrats, there are some cracks in the support for criminal justice reforms in 2020 that have eliminated most forms of cash bail. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state's attorney general are among those now saying they are open to making some changes.


New York State Department of Health

Over the New Year’s holiday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York’s health care providers will see a 1% drop in the reimbursements they receive for the government-funded Medicaid health care program. It’s part of an effort to reduce a multi-billion-dollar budget gap that the state is facing.


File Photo / WBFO News

Beginning Jan. 1, some criminal justice law changes take effect in New York that have divided defendants' rights advocates and law enforcement groups.


WBFO file photo

New York state begins the new year with the biggest budget deficit since the Great Recession, estimated at $5 billion to $6 billion.


File photo

With support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and many members of the state legislature, 2020 could be the year when New York legalizes the adult use of recreational marijuana. But the issue has become complicated by a widespread lung ailment linked to vaping.


Attorneys in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office are plowing through a record number of bills passed by the State Legislature this year, and deciding which ones to sign, and which ones to veto. Some measures have support but still might not make it into law this year, including one that would outlaw some harmful chemicals in children’s toys.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is releasing some of his proposals for the new year early, and one of them is a plan to ban polystyrene -- a plastic foam commonly known as Styrofoam -- in takeout containers from restaurants and fast-food outlets.


NYSenate.Gov

State Sen. Rich Funke of the Rochester area is the latest Republican lawmaker to announce he will not seek re-election. Funke joins seven other minority-party senators who say they are moving on to other things after less than a year under Democratic rule in the Senate.


WBFO file photo

Beginning in March, New York will ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and other retail outlets, which supporters believe will cut down on residents’ use of an estimated 23 billion plastic bags each year. State regulators have released new rules to enforce the changes, but groups on both sides of the issue say those rules are flawed.


NY Now

The state is facing a $6 billion dollar budget deficit, mainly due to an increase in spending on Medicaid,  and Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers are trying to come up with ideas on how to close it. One idea gaining support among some Democrats in the legislature is reinstating a decades-old stock transfer tax changed during the Reagan era that it’s sponsor says could net the state billions of dollars a year.


Al Marlin, NYSSBA

After two decades, the Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association, Tim Kremer, has decided it’s time to retire. He shares his  insights with WBFO Albany Correspondent Karen DeWitt, including how he came to believe that all of the emphasis on standardized testing in recent years, may have been a mistake.


Karen DeWitt

The leader of the state Senate Republicans, who are in the minority in that chamber, said he’s not giving up on winning back seats, even though seven GOP members have announced they are leaving or seeking another office. Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, who ruled as the majority leader for several years until Republicans lost several seats in 2018, said he knows his party faces a big challenge.


The declining New York State Senate Republican conference could get even smaller after three Senators announced that they are not running for reelection in 2020. More exits are expected in the coming weeks.


The leader of the State Senate says she does not think there will be new broad-based taxes on the wealthy to close the state’ s multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. Senator Andrea Stewart–Cousins remarks come as a liberal-leaning think tank is issuing a report that finds New York has the highest level of income inequality in the nation.


Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

Law enforcement groups have pushed back against criminal justice changes that take effect in January, including the end to most forms of cash bail. But the advocates who fought for the changes say they are long overdue and will restore fairness to the system.


New York state is facing the largest budget gap in several years. The $6 billion deficit is due largely to higher costs for Medicaid, the health care insurance program for low-income people.


Earlier this week, the state’s public campaign finance commission issued a plan to allow candidates for state offices to receive public matching grants for some campaign donations under $250. But advocates worry that the final report left out a key legal clause -- and that could jettison the entire program if any one part of it is successfully challenged in court.


The state’s public campaign finance commission voted on a package of bills that would enact a public matching donor program, and put strict new limits on the abilities of minor parties to qualify to be on the ballot. The meeting was at times interrupted by protesters, who compared the commission’s actions to that of President Donald Trump, and some government reform groups say they can’t support the final product. 

Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

A commission designing a public campaign finance system for the state’s political races is poised to limit fusion voting, or the ability for candidates to run on multiple party lines. Now the leader of the State Senate is saying that it would be better if the commission leaves it alone.


Elise Amendola / AP

A new poll finds Democrat Joe Biden is in the lead in New York among challengers to President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, support for the president among independents is up slightly, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s popularity has slipped.


Image by tomkohhantsuk from Pixabay

New York’s Attorney General is suing Juul, the nation’s largest manufacturer of electronic cigarettes, saying the “deceptive and misleading marketing of its e-cigarettes” has contributed to the youth vaping epidemic in New York State.


Karen DeWitt

Mayors across New York state are the latest to express concerns about the bail reform and other criminal justice law changes that take effect in January. The mayors say they don't have the resources or money to properly carry out the new laws.


U.S. Treasury

Reform groups say they are dismayed with the direction of a commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders to implement a public campaign finance system for state elected offices. The commission has just two more meetings before it issues its final report.

New York is facing a looming budget deficit because of rising costs and spending on health care in the state’s Medicaid program. It’s increasingly likely that the state will resort to what critics say is a fiscal “gimmick” to keep the rest of this year's and next year’s spending plans in balance.


Some members of a commission that’s creating the rules for a public campaign finance system for state elected offices are concerned that the plans being developed would be too favorable to incumbent politicians.


Governor Cuomo Twitter Account

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo marched in the Veterans Day parade in New York City. He mostly avoided President Donald Trump, who  also spoke at the event.


District Attorneys Association of New York State

A new law that takes effect in New York in January will give people accused of crimes more tools to mount a defense in court. But the state’s District Attorneys say changes to what’s known as the discovery laws will be costly and hard to implement.

Pages