O'Malley Talks Pepco in State of State Speech

GOP to recommend significant reduction to deficit without raising taxes

Thursday, Feb 3, 2011  |  Updated 8:34 PM EDT
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<a title=Gov. Martin O'Malley vowed to hold Pepco responsible for outages and delays restoring service after last week's snowstorm." />

Chris Gordon

Gov. Martin O'Malley vowed to hold Pepco responsible for outages and delays restoring service after last week's snowstorm.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said Thursday that no state is better positioned than Maryland to transform global challenges into jobs and opportunities. 

But it was a local challenge that got many Pepco customers' attention.

O'Malley gave his fifth State of the State speech on Thursday in a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly. O'Malley, a Democrat, said Maryland sits at the national epicenter of science, security and health, and the state should focus on innovations in life sciences, biotechnology, aerospace and cyber security.

But before O'Malley speech, NBC Washington's Chris Gordon tweeted that the governor was to mention new legislation to hold Pepco to reliability standards or face fines.  And that's what he did.

"Holding utilities accountable for reliable electric service is another (energy challenge)," said O'Malley in his prepared speech. "How long do you want to wait in the cold and dark for a deregulated market to solve these problems? Moms and dads deserve better than to sit for days in freezing homes because the power hasn’t been restored. Family-owned businesses should not be forced to lose productivity and income because big utilities have failed them.

"Today, we introduce legislation that will set reliability standards for electric customers -- and I ask that you join me by making it law," O'Malley continued.

O'Malley has made education a top priority of his administration, and he has steered record amounts of money to fund K-12 education despite a hard recession. This year, O'Malley is funding education at the same level he did last year. O'Malley said that means most school systems for the first time will have to make the same tough choices that the rest of government has had to make for the past four years.

The governor also said he wants to ban septic systems that leak sewage into the Chesapeake Bay.

Giving the Maryland GOP's response, Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, the minority whip in the house, said Thursday that O'Malley hasn't cut enough from the state's $13 billion general fund. Maryland Republicans will make budget recommendations to significantly reduce the state's deficit without raising taxes, she said. O'Malley has relied too much on transferring money from transportation funding and a fund to protect the environment to fill budget holes, because he hasn't cut enough from the budget.

Click here to read O'Malley's entire speech.

Stay with NBCWashington.com for more information.

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