AUGUSTA — Maine’s 125th Legislature – its first Republican-led House and Senate in more than three decades – began its official duties today as lawmakers were sworn in amid promises of bipartisanship solutions to the state’s daunting problems.

Gov. John Baldacci administered the oath of office to the new members of the House and Senate who were elected nearly a month ago. In doing so, Baldacci told them to leave the elections behind as they advance the interests of the state. Baldacci, a Democrat, will be succeeded by Republican Paul LePage, who will be inaugurated in early January.

Lawmakers also unanimously elected Republican Sen. Kevin Raye of Perry as Senate president and Rep. Robert Nutting of Oakland as House speaker. In a traditional show of bipartisanship, their nominations were seconded by Democratic floor leaders. Nutting was quick to lay out the challenge ahead.

“We face a constituency that has shown its indifference to ideology and its lack of patience with political and maneuvering and partisan bickering,” Nutting, the first GOP speaker since 1974, told representatives after taking the oath.

“All of us in this chamber face a sobering fact: We have been elected to office but we have not yet earned the trust of the citizens of Maine. They have given us a chance, but that’s all they have given us.”

The day was marked by great fanfare and celebration as Republicans flexed their partisan control of the two chambers and Democrats settled into an unfamiliar role as minority. The events brought out a list of spectators who once were major players in State House politics, including Maine’s last GOP governor, John McKernan; the last Republican speaker, Richard Hughes; and a who’s who of other former GOP legislative leaders.

Rep. John Martin, the Eagle Lake Democrat who wielded the speaker’s gavel for 10 terms into the 1990s, was asked if he ever envisioned Republican control after so many years of his party’s domination.

“Oh yeah, absolutely,” said Martin, who’s beginning his 23rd two-year term as a legislator. “Elections give everybody a chance to try something else. And this gives the Republicans a chance to put forth something they think they can believe in.” A master parliamentarian, Martin said he has offered to mentor Nutting as he begins his new role.

The new lawmakers face huge fiscal problems, including adopting a budget for the two-year cycle starting July 1. The revenue shortfall by some measures exceeds $1 billion, although there have been some tentative signs that revenues are on the rebound. The governor-elect also has targeted mounting debts due to an unfunded liability in the pension system and hospital debts as items that must be addressed.

“Our challenges today are daunting,” said Nutting. “We are stewards of a government that has become too burdensome but that has much work still to do. We must at once reduce the size and scope of government while leveraging its force to clear the playing field of obstacles that prevent our people from realizing their full potential.”

While promising to be “part of the bipartisan solution” to other challenges, such as improving the economy and creating jobs, House Minority Leader Emily Cain also warned that “things are not and will not be perfect,” but “we are ready to work together.”

In other business Wednesday, lawmakers were expected to elect a new GOP slate of constitutional officers. GOP-backed nominees included William Schneider, a former legislator and now assistant U.S. attorney, for attorney general; Bruce Poliquin, a 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate who has headed a Wall Street investment firm, for treasurer; and Charles Summers Jr. for secretary of state.