The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill to raise the state's minimum wage to $8.50 and provide for automatic annual increases based on the consumer price index.

Sen. Jen Beck, one of the Republicans who voted against the measure Thursday, says it's the wrong time to raise the minimum wage as businesses try to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

"There is no way at this moment in time we're doing the right thing by raising costs on these folks who've lost everything," said Beck, R-Monmouth.

Democratic Sen. Jim Whelan countered that the state's lowest wage earners need an increase.

"Let's raise the minimum wage so those hardest hit by the hurricane, those suffering hardest from this fragile economy, will see a path upward," said Whelan, D-Atlantic.

Democrats are anticipating a veto by Gov. Chris Christie. The Senate also passed a measure that would get around the governor by putting the minimum wage increase on the ballot for voters to decide.