The Senate Democratic caucus released its own budget proposal Thursday, exposing a divide between it and their colleagues in the House Democratic caucus.

The plan released by Senate Democrats seeks to close a $350 million budget shortfall by agreeing to offer a retirement incentive to state employees already at retirement age.

Like the Republican proposal, released last week, the Senate Democrats felt a retirement incentive program was prudent.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said the retirement incentive had been part of the joint Democratic package until last weekend, when it learned some House members had some objections.

In an interview in his office Thursday, Looney said there are 5,000 state workers eligible for the retirement incentive, and about 1,800 are expected to take the package, which would tack an additional three years onto their pension. Looney reasoned that their jobs would be refilled with employees at lower salaries who would qualify for the new tier of pension benefits

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