Higher contribution rates from employees and the state as a result of legislation that was passed earlier this year should reduce the unfunded liability of Kansas’ largest pension fund by $3.5 billion through 2033.

Glenn Deck, executive director of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, told a study commission last week that the additional flow of money would trim the estimated $8.3 billion gap between promised pension benefits and the system’s long-term projected financial assets.

The $13 billion retirement fund provides retirement savings for more than 250,000 teachers and other state and local government workers, or about 8% of the state’s population.

The KPERS Study Commission will hold hearings to develop recommendations to the 2012 Legislature for bolstering the retirement system.

Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, co-chair of the commission, said the state must find a permanent solution to the problems affecting KPERS.

“If there is a more important issue affecting so many Kansans in the 10 years going forward, I’d be challenged to tell you what it is,” he said at a commission meeting last week in Topeka.

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