CHICAGO - Illinois faces an estimated $24 billion unfunded liability for retiree health care benefits, a figure that - though far lower than the number a business group had previously estimated - adds significantly to the state's financial challenges as it grapples with a $42 billion unfunded pension liability, a $750 million budget shortfall, and tardy Medicaid bills.

The preliminary number represents the state's actuarally accrued cost for providing health care benefits to current and future retirees, a number the Segal Group was hired to compile and accounting consultant Deloitte reviewed and validated, as the state seeks to comply with the Governmental Accounting Standard Board's new reporting rules on the other post-employment benefits, largely health care, that governments provide.

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