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Mass. boosts anti-discrimination funding 78% to help clear backlog of complaints

Gov. Charlie Baker signs the state's budget on Thursday. (State House News Service)
Gov. Charlie Baker signs the state's budget on Thursday. (State House News Service)

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination will receive an additional $3.3 million in funding in this year's state budget, following a WBUR report detailing wait times of well over a decade.

The money is in the budget Gov. Charlie Baker signed this week.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz credits WBUR’s reporting for the 78% increase. The budget includes $7.6 million in state funding for the commission for fiscal 2023, compared to $4.3 million the year before.

Chang-Díaz, who presented a bill earlier this year to boost funding for the agency, said the extra money will help ensure that people facing discrimination aren't denied justice by a delayed process.

"It’s going to be a game changer," Chang-Díaz said. "I know it's going to take time for the MCAD to fill the staffing shortages that they've been experiencing in recent years, but this is a huge step forward."

The commission says it has also struggled with a string of departures during the pandemic, compounded by a tight labor market.

"These funds will directly impact the Commission’s ability to accept, investigate, adjudicate and resolve complaints of discrimination," said MCAD Chairwoman Sunila Thomas George in a statement.

Michelle Pavlov, the mother of two profiled by WBUR because of her long, ongoing case before the MCAD, said the seven-year wait continues. But she said she's thrilled the Legislature acted to increase funding for the commission.

"I am over the moon that they can finally get, not only more of the funding they desperately need, but hopefully some well deserved appreciation from the state they serve," Pavlov said in a message.

WBUR also found the backlog of old complaints at the commission rose five-fold during the pandemic.

The WBUR report was co-published by The Boston Globe.

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