HARTFORD - (AP) - Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Monday suggestedthat an early retirement program for certain state employees couldbe a way to help cover the budget deficit for the next fiscal year.

The Republican governor met behind closed doors Monday withDemocratic and Republican legislative leaders to discuss her ideason how to cover the estimated $730 million in red ink for thefiscal year beginning July 1.

Lawmakers and Rell are hoping to reach an agreement before thesession adjourns May 5. Monday's meeting came days after theGeneral Assembly overwhelmingly passed a plan to cover the currentfiscal year's $500 million deficit.

Rell said she was optimistic the May 5 deadline can be met.

Lawmakers said they planned to discuss the options with leadersof the budget-writing committees and the legislature's nonpartisanfiscal office.

"It's everybody's goal to resolve the budget problems for 2011.The governor has given us ideas," said Senate President Donald E.Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn. "We're going to review these and findout what would help or hurt businesses, what would help or hurtmiddle-class families."

Legislators passed a two-year, $37.6 billion budget inSeptember, but it quickly became unbalanced as state revenues keptfalling because of the poor economy.

Rell offered few details of her latest deficit-cutting proposalon Monday, but she said it did not include tax increases or cuts instate aid to cities and towns.