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State's pension fund loses another $10 million; state retirees to see smaller checks

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Most of Wisconsin's state and local government retirees will get smaller pension checks next year, unless the stock market rebounds dramatically.

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The State Investment Board reports another $10 billion loss in its pension fund in October.

That puts the total reduction for the year at $25 billion. The retirement fund now stands at $62.5 billion, about the same as in 2000.

Recently, state officials warned 150,000 retirees that their pension checks might be reduced starting May 1. The drop would be the first in the program's 26-year history.

Investment board director Keith Bozarth says the prospects for positive numbers are not good for the rest of the year.

But because the market is so volatile, he won't make exact predictions.

The public retirement system serves 540,000 state and local government workers and public school employees.

It does not cover Milwaukee's city and county workers, who have their own program.

Jane Elmer of the Wisconsin Retired Educators Association says most members could accept a benefit cut in the 1-3-percent range. But if gets to be 30 percent, they'll be ready to scream.

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