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's free college tuition proposal raises a boatload of questions about cost, eligibility, justification—and, last but not least, winners and losers. The governor hasn't issued his proposal in legislative form, so we don't know many crucial details of how he intends to cover average annual tuition of up to $6,470 for bachelor's degrees and up to $4,800 for associate's degrees at colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) systems. Read More

New York City's Independent Budget Office (IBO) has released its latest data on the distribution of city and state income taxes among city residents—and, once again, the numbers show the tax burden is very light on low- and middle-income residents while relying very heavily on top earners. Read More

Governor Cuomo reportedly has not ruled out an extension of New York's "millionaire tax"—a supposedly temporary added bracket that effectively adds 29 percent to the personal income tax of individuals earning at least $1 million or joint-filing couples earning $2 million. Read More

New York City's move over the next three years to a $15-an-hour minimum wage—the highest ever, after adjusting for inflation—will take the city into uncharted territory, fraught with risks and trade-offs for workers and businesses. Read More

New York State’s tax revenues have fallen more than $1 billion behind projections since the current state budget was adopted eight months ago. When the fiscal year starts April 1, it’ll be staring into the gaping maw of at least a $689 million shortfall. Under the circumstances, a new corporate-tax giveaway is the last thing Albany needs. Read More