Ryan Finnerty

Government and Public Policy Reporter

Ryan Finnerty is Hawaiʻi Public Radio's multi award-winning Government and Public Policy reporter focusing on state and county politics, business, economics, the military, science, and the environment. Before that he was a producer and reporter on HPR's local public affairs talk show The Conversation. His work has been featured nationwide on NPR programs Morning Edition,  All Things Considered, and Here and Now, American Public Media's Marketplace and C-SPAN Radio's View from the States project. Before coming to Hawaiʻi Public Radio, Ryan was an officer in the U.S. Army stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oʻahu. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in economics.   


Technological advances allow the next generation of undersea fiber optic cables to traverse the Pacific without stopping in Hawaii.


Nearly one-quarter of U.S. workers did at least some part of their job remotely in January according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some remote workers are taking their newfound flexibility and relocating to Hawaii.


Hawaii’s ambitious energy goals are aimed at cutting the emission of carbon fuels into the environment, but solar and onshore wind will not get the job done alone.

Noe Tanigawa / Hawai'i Public Radio

Using the a broad assessment of the labor market called the U6 unemployment rate, almost 20% of Hawaii workers are not fully employed.

Casey Harlow / HPR

Although Congress extended jobless benefits in late December, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ out-of-date computer system has created delays in processing certain claims.

Casey Harlow / HPR

The number of properties listed as short term vacation rentals has declined by as much as half compared to pre-pandemic levels, but the numbers may be deceiving. 

Wikimedia Commons

Oahu households would each have to pay an additional $30,000 in taxes to fully cover the City and County’s future obligations.


In his annual state of the state address, Hawaii Governor David Ige outlined his vision for Hawaii’s post-pandemic future; what he called Hawaii 2.0.

mrbrkly / Flickr

In his state of the state address on Monday, Governor David Ige is expected to outline a plan for solving Hawaii’s nearly $2 billion budget shortfall. That spending plan will have to be passed by the state legislature, which has several options to plug the hole.

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

The main task facing state lawmakers this session will be to plug the $1.8 billion hole in Hawaii’s budget. Leadership signaled a reluctance to accomplish that through raising taxes.

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

Wednesday marks the start of the 2021 session of the Hawaii State Legislature. Lawmakers are back in the capitol under increased measures for public health and physical security.

Chip Fletcher

While much of focus for the 2021 legislative session will be on responding to the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, some state lawmakers are still pushing for policies to  address climate change.

Noe Tanigawa / Hawaii Public Radio

The Hawaii man arrested in connection with last week's armed riot at the U.S. Capitol made his first appearance in federal court today and was released on bail.

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

With unemployment in Hawaii at some of the highest levels in the country, a group of local business owners are pushing back on a state plan to end commercial operations at Oahu’s Dillingham Airfield.


One of the men identified as taking part in Wednesday’s armed riot at the U.S. Capitol has been arrested in Hawaii.

daveiam/Flickr / CC 2.0 license

Much of the state legislature’s business during the upcoming five month session will be conducted remotely, which is already creating technical challenges.

Ryan Finnerty/HPR

2020 was a tumultuous year for the local economy in Hawaii and the outlook for 2021 remains mixed and uncertain.

Flickr - Bytemarks Unemployment Office

The federal pandemic relief bill signed into law by President Trump provides extra financial benefits for Hawaii residents filing for unemployment insurance.

AP Photo/Caleb Jones

The latest visitor arrival figures show a major increase in November, but the number of tourists in Hawaii remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

Ryan Finnerty / HPR

The future of a bill to deliver a second round of pandemic assistance spending remains unclear after President Trump expressed dissatisfaction with a measure passed by Congress this week.

Ryan Finnerty / HPR

Hawaii Governor David Ige says his proposed two-year spending plan reflects the difficult decisions forced on the state by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The whine of chainsaws and rumble of wood chippers are echoing around the shores of Pearl Harbor.

Work crews are clearing an invasive species of mangrove from the shoreline and coastal streams that empty into Hawaii's most famous body of water.

"Pearl Harbor is being choked out by red mangrove," says Amanda Millin, a field crew manager overseeing a team of five.

Millin notes that in most tropical ecosystems, mangroves provide a variety of environmental benefits, including sequestering carbon, controlling erosion control and fostering biodiversity.

Ryan Finnerty / HPR

Updated 12/21/20, 3:49 p.m.

Governor David Ige has released his proposed state budget for lawmakers to consider in the 2021 legislative session. Ige says the two year spending plan reflects the difficult decisions forced on the state by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Courtesy of Malama Puuloa

State-wide unemployment remains at more than ten-percent in Hawaii, among the highest levels in the country. To create jobs, one local organization has brought back an idea from the Great Depression: paying unemployed workers to do environmental restoration.

Courtesy of Hawaii News Now

Updated 12/18/20, 11:53 a.m.

The state Department of Health reported 130 new cases and one fatality Friday.

James Palinsad/Flickr / Creative Commons License 2.0

Hawaii likely has just a few remaining days to make use of emergency pandemic relief funds awarded to Hawaii by the federal government in March when Congress passed the $2 trillion CARES Act.

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

Hawaii’s biggest surfing competition of the year is underway on the North Shore. While the surf is up, so are concerns about Covid-19.

The Latest: 10 Deaths, 106 New Cases; BOE Chair Paints Grim Budget Picture For Schools

Dec 4, 2020
AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Updated: 12/4/2020, 12:23 p.m.

The state Department of Health reported 10 deaths and 106 new COVID-19 cases today -- a startling increase in fatalities. Because of the department's two-day delay in posting new numbers, the counts represent cases from Wednesday.

Some counties are reporting more timely numbers that may differ from the state's counts.

According to the state numbers, Oahu had 73 new cases, Maui County 15, Hawaii County 11, and Kauai 3. Lanai and Molokai had none. Four more were diagnosed out of state.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Updated: 12/1/2020, 12:09 p.m. 

The state Department of Health reported no deaths and 44 new COVID-19 cases today. Because of the department's two-day delay in posting new numbers, the counts represent cases from Sunday.

Some counties are reporting more timely numbers that may differ from the state's counts.

According to the state numbers, Oahu had 32 new cases, Maui 5, Hawaii County 6, and Kauai, Molokai and Lanai 0. There were no new cases diagnosed out of state.

Ryan Finnerty

The U.S. military is increasing efforts to counter China’s influence around the Pacific by cultivating partnerships with countries in the region. Hawaii is playing a central role.