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

Ten days after the report's Halloween due date, Governor Cuomo's Division of the Budget (DOB) has just issued a mid-year Financial Plan update that might as well be wearing a fright mask. The update reduces revenue projections by $850 million this year, and by another $850 in each of the next two years, mostly as a result of an estimated $750 million drop in annual personal income tax reductions. Read More

New York State's budget gap through fiscal 2018-19 could be a whopping $4.6 billion worse than indicated by Governor Cuomo's latest Division of the Budget (DOB) projections, according to new estimates from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Read More

Plenty of unintended consequences, positive and negative, will be lurking in the fine print of the tax-reform bill unveiled Thursday by House Republicans. But it’s already clear the plan would clobber Albany’s favorite cash cow: the seven-figure earners who generate more than 40 percent of the state income tax. Read More

Until a few months ago, Governor Cuomo could boast of producing an "on-time budget" in each of his first six years in office. But he also continues to steadily build on another kind of record: for a seventh consecutive year, he has now missed the statutory deadline for issuing the state's Mid-Year Financial Plan Update. Read More

Governor Andrew Cuomo today staged a public joint conference-call with California Governor Jerry Brown to discuss the impact on their respective states of a proposal to eliminate the state and local tax deduction (SALT on federal income taxes. Read More

The September cash report from the state comptroller's office—an important indicator of New York's fiscal health at the halfway mark of the fiscal year—highlights growing budgetary worries for Governor Cuomo and (ultimately) the Legislature. The report showed that total state tax receipts through September 30 had come in $387 million below the level projected for that period in the First Quarterly Update issued in July—which itself reflected a $1.6 billion downward adjustment from the cash flow projection in the Executive Budget presented by Cuomo in January. Read More

Vice President Pence visited western New York to tout a federal tax reform plan that could still end up saving less for Buffalo area taxpayers than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. Read More