When Wayne T. Gilchrest is sworn in as the newest member of Maryland's congressional delegation in January, the Eastern Shore Republican will begin drawing a salary that in 1991 will total about $23,000 more than that received by the delegation's senior member, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.
The disparity between what Gilchrest will make in his first year as a member of Congress and what Sarbanes, a Democrat, will make in his 21st year stems from legislation enacted last year. At that time, the House chose to substantially increase its members' pay in exchange for a prohibition on the acceptance of speech fees, or honoraria.
The Senate, however, took a different course, opting to phase in smaller annual cost-of-living increases while phasing out honoraria. Though senators, if they take the maximum of about $24,000 in honoraria allowed, will be able to roughly match the $125,100 salary House members will get next year, a growing number are swearing off speech fees.
Not only will Gilchrest's salary in 1991 exceed the roughly $102,000 official salary Sarbanes and other senators will receive, it also will be more than six times what he earned as a teacher and house painter in 1989.
Though Gilchrest appears to be one of the least well-off members of the House's incoming freshman class, many of the 43 other freshmen elected this month also will see their incomes rise substantially when they are sworn in as members of the 102nd Congress.
Financial disclosure reports filed with the Clerk of the House show that all but seven of the incoming freshmen made less in calendar 1989 than the $125,100 salary they will receive as House members. For about three out of five of the 44 freshmen, their congressional salaries will be at least double what they made in salary in their private sector jobs during 1989, according to the disclosure forms.
In some cases, though, salary figures listed on the financial disclosure forms tell only part of the story. House members and candidates are required to disclose their earned income to the dollar, but must report only broad ranges of unearned income from such sources as dividends, interest and rental properties.
Thus, Gary A. Franks, a Connecticut Republican, reported 1989 salary income of just $4,000 from his job as a Waterbury alderman. But he also owns part or all of 15 rental properties, which provided him with unearned income of between $146,000 and $471,000 during the year.
At the other end of the scale is Indiana Democrat Tim Roemer, who with his wife reported 1989 income of less than $22,000 (he was a Capitol Hill staff aide and adjunct professor at American University; she was a salesperson) and unearned income of not more than $6,000.
Though Roemer's income puts him near the bottom of the incoming freshmen in terms of previous salary, overall the 44 freshmen House members in the 102nd Congress will take an upwardly mobile step in 1991. A total of 35 of the new members reported 1989 salary income of less than $85,000, and for them becoming a member of Congress will represent at least an increase of about 50 percent.
As far as professions go, the class of 1990 is relatively diverse. There is the usual assortment of lawyers, businessmen, state legislators and local officials. But there's also a university president, an innkeeper, an architect and a stockbroker.
There's even a socialist, Bernard Sanders of Vermont. But judging by Sanders's financial disclosure form, socialists aren't what they used to be. Not only did Sanders report 1989 income exceeding $45,000 -- more than that of 18 of his fellow incoming freshmen -- but about $15,000 of it came from honoraria for speeches at colleges and universities.
Staff researcher Ralph Gaillard Jr. contributed to this report.