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State pensions underfunded by $4.1 trillion, study says

By Erika Engle

LAST UPDATED: 12:03 p.m. HST, Sep 3, 2013

Hawaii is among several states whose retired public employees are threatened by underfunded pensions, according to a new study.

The report, "Promises Made, Promises Broken -- The Betrayal of Pensioners and Taxpayers," by Virginia-based State Budget Solutions, found that Hawaii's Employee Retirement System has nearly $27 billion in unfunded liability.

The state with the highest unfunded liability at $640 billion, is California, the study found.

The report is an evaluation based on fair-market valuations that discounts liabilities at a risk-free rate, versus optimistic investment returns used by most plans, authors say.

A summary of the report and a sortable database of state-by-state information are posted online.

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