E.J. McMahon

Senior Fellow and Founder

Edmund J. McMahon is the Empire Center’s founder and a senior fellow.

McMahon’s writing and research focuses on improving New York’s economic competitiveness and promoting greater transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility in state and local government. He has authored or co-authored major studies on public pension reform, collective bargaining, population migration, budget trends and tax policy in New York. His influential “Blueprint for a Better Budget,” published in January 2010, featured a number of recommendations subsequently implemented under Governors David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo. McMahon also was a leading advocate of an across-the-board cap on property taxes in New York before it was enacted at Governor Cuomo’s initiative in 2011.

McMahon has published numerous articles and essays in publications including the Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesBarron’s, the Public Interest, the New York Post, the New York Daily NewsNewsday and the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. His frequent radio and TV interviews have included appearances on CNBC, Fox News Channel and Bloomberg News, as well as on regional cable and broadcast outlets throughout New York State.

McMahon’s professional background includes nearly 30 years as an Albany-based analyst and close observer of New York State government. As chief fiscal advisor to the Assembly Republican Conference in the early 1990s, he drafted a personal income tax reform plan that would become the basis for historic tax cuts enacted under Governor George E. Pataki. Previously, as research director of the Public Policy Institute, he worked on the Institute’s counter-budget proposals and developed the template for New York’s school report cards. He also served as a deputy commissioner in the state Department of Taxation and Finance and as a vice chancellor of the State University of New York.

McMahon is also an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which he joined in June 2000. In January 2005, he opened the Institute’s Albany-based Empire Center project, which became an independent nonprofit think tank in 2013. He was the Empire Center’s first president and became research director in the fall of 2016.

Earlier in his career, he was a staff writer and columnist for the Albany Times Union and The Knickerbocker News.

McMahon is a graduate of Villanova University.

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Latest Work

Congressional Republicans today unveiled a summary of their plans for permanently extending last year's federal income tax cuts—presumably (but not explicitly) subsidized by a permanent $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. Read More

The newly enacted federal income law provision limiting state and local tax (SALT) deductions "is likely to substantially decrease home values" in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey. That's a key claim of the lawsuit filed by the four states against the Trump administration today with the goal of having the $10,000 SALT deduction cap declared unconstitutional. Read More

The New York-led multi-state lawsuit challenging the new federal tax law is not as weak as you might have heard. If anything, it's even worse—a 141-page mashup of half-baked numbers, dubious factual assertions and (largely well-founded) political arguments masquerading as constitutional jurisprudence. Read More

The overarching scandal here wasn’t bid-rigging or the pay-to-play pattern in the developers’ contributions to the governor’s reelection campaign. At the root was a simply awful public policy — corporate welfare on steroids — that neither Cuomo nor most of his critics have definitively renounced, even now. Read More

Governor Cuomo frequently asserts that his policies have ignited an economic turnaround in upstate New York, and he's been known to cherry-pick numbers to back himself up. He was at it again during a swing through the Mohawk Valley earlier this week—and, once again, the statistical cherries were in bloom. Read More

Marking the Taylor Law's 50th anniversary, this paper reviews the background of the law and highlights provisions and precedents in need of state legislative reform. Read More

Among New York school districts with enrollments of 4,000 or more, the list of highest property taxes per pupil is what you’d expect — topped by Great Neck, Scarsdale, Syosset and Bedford. In fifth place is a somewhat less wealthy outlier: the Northport-East Northport district. It will raise $28,556 per pupil in property taxes next year, based on data from the state’s 2018-19 Property Tax Report Card. That’s 57 percent above the Suffolk County average. Read More

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About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

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