HARRISBURG, March 23 – State Sens. Jay Costa, Vincent Hughes and Christine Tartaglione today announced that they will introduce a package of bills to create more than 40,000 transitional jobs statewide over two years.

The community service jobs would employ Pennsylvanians through a nine-month contract paying $10 per hour for up to 30 hours per week for adults. A youth employment component creates six-week summer positions at $9 per hour for 25 hours per week.

“With job loss continuing throughout the Commonwealth, putting people to work should be our first priority,” Costa said. “There are federal job-creation funds and targeted state dollars that we can take advantage of now to help our neighbors earn a steady paycheck while they continue to look for permanent jobs.”

The jobs program would be funded by federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant funding and by instituting a tax on the wholesale price of smokeless tobacco products. The TANF funding was allocated to Pennsylvania as part of a $5 billion emergency fund created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“The economic downturn has caused widespread hardship, but working families have been hit hardest,” Tartaglione said. “By creating 40,000 jobs we will not only be able to help these families make ends meet, but we will be able to provide paid help to community service organizations that would not have been able to hire workers otherwise.”

In his February budget address, Gov. Rendell proposed a tax on smokeless tobacco products but would store the revenue in a reserve fund to fill future budget holes. Senate Democrats are proposing to use this tax revenue immediately to create jobs.

“If we move to institute a tax on smokeless tobacco products, just like every other state across the country has done for years, we can use this money to stimulate the economy and put Pennsylvanians to work,” Hughes said. “The only way to rebound a stagnant economy is to create jobs and put money back into the economy at the local level. That’s what we intend to do.”

The legislative package contains four separate measures including a resolution authored by Tartaglione stressing the need to draw down and utilize all available federal stimulus job creation monies.

The senators said that after the two years of TANF money has run out, the estimated $80 million per year from the smokeless tobacco tax would fund a continuing statewide job-creation program.