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

The highest earning one percent of New York City residents generated 43 percent of city income taxes and 51 percent of the New York State income taxes collected from individuals  living in the city as of 2016, according to newly released data from the Independent Budget Office (IBO). The IBO's latest tax liability estimates highlight once again New York's heavy dependence on the top 1 percent, for which the income cut point as of 2016 was $713,706. Read More

New York State's so-called millionaire tax, temporarily raising the state's top income tax rate to 8.82 percent from the permanent law limit of 6.85 percent, is next scheduled to expire at the end of 2019. The added tax generates roughly $4.5 billion a year, about 9 percent of net personal income tax revenues, making New York more dependent than ever on the highest-earning one percent of its taxpayers. The future of the tax has now emerged as an issue in the gubernatorial campaign. Read More

When motorists in New York top off their gas tanks this Labor Day weekend, they’ll be paying an average of about 45 cents per gallon in state and local fuel taxes—the 5th highest total in the nation, and second highest in the Northeast. Read More

When it comes to rhetorical use of upstate New York unemployment statistics, Governor Cuomo is consistent. Unfortunately, he's consistently misleading. The latest example came at today's ribbon-cutting today for the new 136,000-square-foot Expo Center at the state fairgrounds in Syracuse, where Cuomo delivered a roughly 25-minute stream-of-consciousness riff that focused on what he portrayed as an economic turnaround in upstate and the Syracuse area. Read More