HARRISBURG - State Sen. Joe Scarnati was sworn in yesterday as Pennsylvania's 31st lieutenant governor, replacing the late Catherine Baker Knoll for the next two years.

Scarnati, 46, will keep his Senate seat and his post as the chamber's top senator, president pro tempore. The Jefferson County Republican assumed the job of lieutenant governor under the state constitution's rules of succession, putting him second in line to Democratic Gov. Rendell.

The ceremony in the Senate chamber was attended by Rendell, Senate officials, and a few dozen Scarnati family members. News photographers, tape recorders and television cameras were not allowed in.

The state's deepening fiscal problems were a reason not to have a long or costly swearing-in ceremony, Scarnati said.

In remarks after he was sworn in, Scarnati said state policymakers must work harder to respond to the problems of state residents.

"Pennsylvanians are looking for one thing: They're looking for some hope," Scarnati said. "They're looking to hope that what we do today will make a better day tomorrow."

Scarnati acknowledged that he had been a vocal critic of Rendell's policies in the past, and described how he intends to balance the views of the Democratic governor and the Republican caucus he leads.

"I know that I'm a big enough person to look beyond partisan politics in what I think is probably the largest fiscal crisis we've had in this commonwealth in decades," he said.

Rendell said he was confident that their disagreements would be amicable and resolved with the best interests of Pennsylvanians in mind.

Scarnati is laying off the dozen or so members of Knoll's staff, but he said they might be able to find jobs in the administration.

Knoll, a Democrat, died Nov. 12, about four months after being diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer. She was 78.