BAR HARBOR — The Jackson Laboratory biomedical research institution in Maine says the Florida Legislature has approved a state budget that includes $50 million in funding for its plans to build a research branch in Florida.

Florida lawmakers on Friday sent a $70 billion budget to Gov. Charlie Christ for his signature.

The Jackson Laboratory, located in Bar Harbor, wants to build a facility in south Florida where scientists would apply research directly to the treatment of human diseases.

Jackson Laboratory President Rick Woychik said the state funding in Florida is an “important first step” in moving forward with the project.