The difference between the assets of the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System and its obligations to retired state employees is down to $7.6 billion after peaking at $8.2 billion at the end of 2008.

Last week’s report by the retirement system to a joint legislative committee said KPERS experienced $2.7 billion of market losses in 2008. Losses in 2009 declined to $602 million, and performance so far in 2010 is stable.

Glenn Deck, executive director of the retirement system, said despite the improvement in the unfunded pension liability KPERS still has “a major funding shortfall.”

About 250,0000 Kansans participate in the retirement system for state employees, public school staff, local government workers, police officers, firefighters, and judges. The system has an $11.2 billion portfolio.

The system’s funding ratio ranges from 82% for judges to 56% for public school workers. The overall funding ratio was 64% at the end of 2009.

A financial consultant to the system said the fund for public school teachers and employees is in the worst shape, with an unfunded liability of $4.9 billion. The public school pension fund is the largest in the system.

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