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

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo staged a series of upstate ribbon-cutting events at which he again touted the region's economic progress. Today came something of a reality check: the monthly state Labor Department jobs report, which showed weak year-to-year private employment growth in upstate's largest metro areas. Read More

Seemingly stalled on health care and Medicaid, congressional Republicans and the Trump administration will soon turn their attention to taxes—another area in which federal reform offers mixed prospects for New York State. Read More

Over the past three years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reaped an unprecedented windfall of more than $10 billion in fines and penalties paid by major financial institutions for violating various state and federal banking laws. Coming virtually out of the blue, the windfall represented a unique opportunity to get ahead of the state’s most pressing problems — including but not limited to those of the transit system. It’s an opportunity Cuomo has mostly squandered. Read More

Compared to national and statewide averages, rural counties in upstate New York have a much larger share of residents aged 65 and older, the latest Census Bureau estimates show. The 65+ population was 15.3 percent of the U.S. total as of mid-2016, according to census data released today. The Empire State as a whole was just a hair above the national average, with 15.4 percent of New Yorkers falling into the age category that demographers generally tag as elderly. Read More

Governor Andrew Cuomo sprang his announcement of a five-year contract agreement with state's largest union on Tuesday afternoon— the last possible moment to win legislative approval of the deal so checks can start going out to union members. But he released absolutely no details of what he was about to ask lawmakers to approve before they end their session today. Read More