HARRISBURG,  April 26, 2011 –  Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione today announced the introduction of legislation intended to prevent as many as 135,000 laid-off  workers from losing unemployment benefits.

“The economic recovery has been strong on Wall Street, but slow on Main Street,” Tartaglione said. “Banks and large corporations are making money, but hiring hasn’t caught up. Protecting benefits for workers means protecting homes, families and entire communities.”

 Federally subsidized extended benefits are triggered by a state’s unemployment rate over a defined period of time, called a “look-back” period.  Using a two-year look-back, Pennsylvania will not qualify after May 21, and 45,000 Pennsylvanians would lose benefits on June 11.  An estimated 90,000 more would lose regular benefits and not qualify for extended benefits through the end of the year.

 Tartaglione’s bill, Senate Bill 994, would make the technical change to Pennsylvania’s unemployment law to allow for the extension.  If passed, Pennsylvania would join more than a dozen other states in extending the look-back period to three years, allowing thousands to keep their benefits as the job market begins to slowly recover.   About 97 percent of the cost would be paid for by the federal government.

Tartaglione, the Democratic Chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee,  said she hopes the committee and the full Senate will move it quickly.

“It’s important to remember that unemployment benefits don’t  just provide income for jobless workers,” Tartaglione said. “The benefits sustain local businesses and local communities by keeping families solvent and in their homes.  This bill would help ensure continued progress in the economic recovery.”