State Treasurer Denise Nappier said the state’s unfunded pension liability highlighted by this Pew Center report underscores what she’s been saying for a long time.

“My concerns about this looming liability are no secret,” Nappier said Friday in a press release. “I have been working to shine light on this issue for more than a decade, through testimony before the General Assembly, opinion editorials, speeches and press releases.”

In 2008 Connecticut’s three pension systems has a total liability of $41.3 billion and an unfunded liability that is nearly four and a half times its annual payroll cost, the Pew Center report revealed last week.

While the challenge of fully funding the pensions seems insurmountable Nappier said 2009 provided the state some hope.

In 2009 the state’s pension assets grew $2.7 billion and generated an average return of 19.82 percent.

“This turn-around was a dramatic improvement over the market downturns we saw earlier in 2009, and potentially very good news for state taxpayers and the approximately 160,000 pension plan beneficiaries and participants,” Nappier said.

Nappier also said the $2 billion bond the state borrowed to fund the Teachers’ Retirement Fund and a covenant that requires the state to fully fund that plan was significant.

“Making a fully funded pension fund a priority is still the right thing to do,” Nappier said.

“It is important to recognize that since assuming office in 2006, Governor Rell, with the support of the General Assembly, has been a proponent of fully funding our Teachers’ Retirement Fund and honoring the collective bargaining agreement for the State Employees’ Retirement Fund, with the exception of an agreement to defer up to $200 million in contributions because of the current fiscal crisis,” Nappier said Friday. “It is my hope that the current Pew Report will serve as a reminder that we need to stay disciplined and chart the right course to ensure that our commitment to current and future retirees remains firm. There is much work to do and additional reforms to consider as we look to the future.”