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By Chris Megerian
March 6, 2014, 9:18 a.m.

SACRAMENTO — While lawmakers begin discussing ways to fix California’s cash-strapped teacher pension system, another long-term financial problem continues to fester.

The cost of providing healthcare to retired state workers is $64.6 billion more than state leaders have set aside to pay, an increase of $730 million from the previous year.

The new numbers, calculated as of last June, were released by state Controller John Chiang on Thursday.

“While most are focused on unfunded pension obligations, this is a sleeper problem that can become the next big fiscal threat if we continue to do nothing,” he said in a statement.

State workers become eligible, after 10 years on the job, to receive taxpayer-funded healthcare for life. The state picks up an even bigger share of the cost after 20 years of employment.

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