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BOISE -- The state pension fund is ahead of its target through the first six months of the fiscal year.

Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho director Don Drum told budget writers Thursday the more than $12.5 billion, 125,000-member fund is returning 7.44 percent through this month, above the 7 percent estimate.

If the trend continues, Drum says PERSI will reduce its unfunded liability that now stands at $1.6 billion, a figure that's lower than in many other states whose pensions have had to make benefit changes to help balance their books.

State employees are scheduled to pay more money from their paychecks this year into the account as part of already-planned contribution hikes.

As part of that, state taxpayers' share of contributions will rise by about $2 million this next year.

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