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Key figures meet to resolve St. Clare's pension crisis

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) - There’s a plan - of sorts - to resolve the St. Clare’s Hospital pension crisis.

Right now, former employees are at risk of losing either some or all of the pension money they counted on. St. Clare’s was affiliated with the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese but the hospital board managed the pension. The hospital was closed by the state in 2008.

On Friday, for the first time, local lawmakers sat down with Bishop Edward Scharfenberger to try and come up with a plan.

But even after Friday’s meeting, there is still no clear answer to how much money is needed to make the 1,100 pensioners whole.

“We worked so hard for years and years. We deserve it,” Mary Hartshorne said.

Hartshorne is one of those 1,100, some of whom were at Friday's meeting. Lawmakers said the estimate right now to take care of them is $42 million. Their plan is to go to the state and ask for $20 million with the hope that the catholic church's Mother Cabrini Health Foundation could ante up the rest.

Assem. Angelo Santabarbara said both his chamber and the Senate would quickly submit requests for the partial state bailout.

“The budget is underway... the clock is ticking,” he said. “We at least have a request in there for what we think will be fifty percent.”

Sen. Jim Tedisco downplayed concerns that asking the state for money to resolve the pension problems would set a precedent, saying the state helped create the mess.

“We're not saying this for all pension funds but the government was involved, so it’s a little bit different,” he said.

After the meeting, Scharfenberger put out a statement saying, "We are continuing our collaboration with community leaders to do whatever we can to help the good people who served St. Clare's Hospital."

Scharfenberger called it a very positive meeting and a necessary next step in seeking a solution to the pension crisis.

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