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

Governor Andrew Cuomo is ending the year on a strong pro-taxpayer note, vetoing union-backed legislation that would have blocked the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority from imposing pay freezes to balance the county budget. Read More

For the millionaire earners who generate an outsized share of New York State's income tax receipts, a possible congressional deal to trim the top tax rate in the final federal tax reform bill would take some of the sting out of losing the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. Read More

For the eighth consecutive year, New York's governor and Legislature have failed to comply with a decade-old law designed to foster a "quick start" of the state budget process for the next fiscal year. Read More

The largest upstate New York metro areas had weak or declining private job numbers in October, and the state as a whole trailed the national employment trend, according to the latest year-over-year data from the state Labor Department. Read More

The lead editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal highlights the role that high taxes have played in driving migration trends out of New York and other high-tax states. Marginal tax rates matter, as the Journal very correctly points out. Unfortunately, in making this important point, the editorial relies a bit too much on a misinterpretation of migration data produced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which tracks the movement of taxpayers among the 50 states. Read More