E.J. McMahon

Founding Senior Fellow

Edmund J. McMahon is the Empire Center’s founding 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 founding 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.

Latest Work

As the budget process moves into higher gear, Governor Cuomo's "serious as a heart attack" revenue shortfall has turned into something more like angina—but financial risks are mounting along with projected future budget gaps. Read More

Governor Cuomo has announced he's flying to Washington on Tuesday to meet with President Trump to discuss the impact on New York of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap in the new federal tax law. Spoiler Alert: even assuming Trump is uncharacteristically thick-skinned in the face of Cuomo's harsh unrelenting political attacks, the SALT cap isn't going anywhere.  Read More

State Sen. Julia Salazar, a democratic socialist from Brooklyn, is backing an idea that could appeal to limited-government conservatives across New York. The first-term legislator has introduced legislation (S.3061) establishing a multi-state compact that would bar member states from offering any "company-specific subsidy." Read More

The New York State Teachers Retirement System (NYSTRS) will cut its employer pension rate by nearly two percentage points for 2019-20, reducing net costs to school districts by nearly $300 million. Read More

Disentangled from his rambling and often hyper-partisan State of the State Address, the fiscal basics of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget largely amount to more of the same policies he has pursued in the past — for better and worse. Read More

Disentangled from the politically turbocharged, high-volume rhetoric of his State of the State message, the first Executive Budget of Governor Andrew Cuomo's third term is largely a stay-the-course affair—for better and worse. Read More

Getting the jump on Governor Andrew's Cuomo's budget presentation, the much-diminished state Senate Republican conference today issued a counter-budget plan—which doesn't even begin to add up. Lead elements of the "Real Solutions" plan from the Senate GOP Minority include "forcefully rejecting new taxes and fees" and "fighting" for a permanent property tax cap as well as a statutory state spending cap. Read More