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The gap between the promises states have made for public employees’ retirement benefits and the money they have set aside grew to at least $1.26 trillion in fiscal year 2009, resulting in a 26 percent increase in one year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States.

According to Pew, the report’s figures are likely conservative estimates because they reflect the states’ own assumptions about the average investment returns they will achieve.

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