Six months after state lawmakers hastily approved Illinois’ 2022 budget, a hidden discretionary fund has been identified giving Gov. J.B. Pritzker total control over $2 billion in federal COVID-19 aid.

More than six months after Springfield lawmakers hurriedly passed Illinois’ $42 billion annual budget in the dead of night, a Chicago Tribune analysis has uncovered a secret slush fund giving Gov. J.B. Pritzker the authority to spend $2 billion in federal aid without approval from the General Assembly.

State lawmakers who were given mere hours to review the 4,000-page Democratic spending proposal before the vote June 1 said the majority failed to mention the hidden provision. The budget debates were deliberately limited in the House and Senate by again delivering the massive document at the last minute, a practice perfected by former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Members of the Republican minority have demanded greater transparency and input in how the coronavirus relief dollars are spent. A lead GOP budget negotiator, state Rep. Tom Demmer, called the move “a shell game” and is pushing for legislative approval before Pritzker spends the money.

Read the full story on Illinois Policy here.