WASHINGTON — As state and local governments grapple with pension reform, they may have more flexibility to reduce benefits for current public employees than conventional wisdom suggests, according to a new report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Forty-three states have made significant changes to improve the financial condition of their retirement plans and reduce costs in the wake of the financial crisis. Moody’s Investor Service announced in July that states and localities face more than $2 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities. As a result, many states have considered closing existing pension plans to new hires and adjusting employee and employer contribution levels.

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