A state report shows the amount of money taxpayers owe five state pension plans hit $100.5 billion on June 30. But that's $3 billion less when not using a counting method adopted five years ago that made the pension picture brighter. Auditor General William Holland released a report estimating the total retirement-fund debt based on a process called ``smoothing'' -- considering gains and losses during the past five years. Without smoothing and instead considering current market value of assets, the total unfunded liability is $97 billion. Democratic state Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook is a House pension leader. She notes smoothing brightens the picture in down times but encourages lawmakers not to abandon it in good times. Lawmakers adopted a plan in December to reduce the pension debt.
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