After roughly two hours of debate, the full State Senate today passed a bill to hike the state's minimum wage now and tie automatic yearly adjustments to the Consumer Price Index. The bill would raise the minimum wage by $1.25 to $8.50 per hour, but it could be headed for a veto by Governor Chris Christie.

Flickr: Lee Coursey)

The bill’s sponsor in the Upper House, Senate President Steve Sweeney says, "We will put a bill on the Governor's desk that he has the option of signing. If he strips the CPI from it, we will move forward with a constitutional amendment….It's either going to be implemented by the Governor or it will be implemented by the people of this state."

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says, “This is great progress for hard-working New Jersey families struggling to make ends meet. Democrats are united in their belief in a living wage for all New Jerseyans. We now look forward to moving this bill to final legislative approval and sending it to the governor to see if he too shares our core belief in a living wage for everyone.”

Yesterday, Christie said, "No one has ever negotiated with me on the minimum wage and I've been begging to be negotiated with for months…….I've continued to say on the minimum wage that I'm willing to consider a responsible minimum wage package, but let's be clear on this now; we've got thousands businesses wiped (by super-storm Sandy) and is this really now the moment to say to those folks we're going to hit you with a $1.25 increase on March 1 and a CPI beyond that?"

“Both parties by and large agree that the minimum wage should be increased, and my amendment hits the Democrats’ mark of $8.50,” says GOP Senator Joe Pennacchio who voted against the measure. “But legislative Democrats still refuse to compromise and would rather hold workers and small businesses as political hostages for next year’s campaigns.”

Oliver says, “Hopefully, the governor will sign this bill as-is, but if he does not, then we'll quickly take stock and weigh our next step, including asking the people of New Jersey to decide this important matter.”

The full Assembly is expected to vote on the minimum wage increase Monday.