Every Legislature gets sworn in with promises of a new beginning. Since legislative terms were limited, it has become a common sight to see new leaders each session wearing formal suits and rows of first-time lawmakers raising their hands to be sworn in.

But none of us can ever remember seeing a new beginning quite like the one that took place last week. For the first time in a generation, the reins of power are in Republican hands, and it’s not just the party in control that has changed.

There is a new speaker of the House, a new Senate president and a new attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer, all promising to take the state in a new direction.

That was what the voters demanded last month, and they have given the Republicans the tools to lead, by giving Gov.-elect Paul LePage a majority in both legislative bodies.

So far, all the new leaders have talked about working in a bipartisan fashion, and there have been some hopeful signs that they really mean it. An interesting relationship that is worth watching will be the one between Speaker Robert Nutting and House Minority Leader Emily Cain, who served together on the Appropriations Committee when the Democrats were in charge and Cain was the chairman.

That committee produced a series of budgets and amendments under difficult conditions as revenue plummeted. The work was not easy and the choices were unpalatable. But in the end, the committee’s votes were unanimous, proving that Maine legislators could work together.

That was the spirit of the new beginning when the new Legislature was sworn in last week, and that’s the spirit that will be tested when the real work begins next month.