"We are talking about ... keeping money for government because we are worried we won't have enough to spend on government," Kelly said. "But the fact is we've spent too much."
He said a proposed operating budget this year of $5.6 billion or more "is a ridiculous amount of spending."
The Legislature needs to look at the issue differently, he argued, and not focus on protecting the state budget.
Kelly didn't address how many Alaskans now rely on state spending for jobs, through state contracts and direct employment, but said people want to be in control of their own money and be assured of jobs.
"Are we here to protect the interests of government or are we here to protect the people of Alaska?" Kelly said.
The latest version of the bill, with a 30 percent base tax on oil profits, would cost the state about the same as the version proposed by Parnell in January. It would bring in hundreds of millions less per year than the version that emerged earlier in the session from the Senate Resources Committee, which included a 35 percent profits tax. Parnell had proposed 25 percent but the Senate versions also included a $5-per-barrel tax break.
The Senate Finance Committee is continuing to take testimony on and debate the bill. It may come up on the Senate floor Saturday or even Sunday, Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, said in an interview Wednesday. He isn't approving any travel by senators this weekend.
It will take 11 votes for the bill to clear the full Senate.
While 13 Republicans and two Democrats are in the GOP-led majority, some from both parties are opposed or undecided. Sen. Dennis Egan of Juneau, the other Democrat in the majority, said Wednesday that he is alarmed by the projected revenue hit, and Sen. Bert Stedman, a Republican from Sitka who was the Senate's leading player on oil taxes last year, has spoken up against this year's approach.
Huggins said he was confident the oil tax bill will pass.
"Shoot, I'd be surprised if we didn't have 15 (votes)," he said. "We're good."
The House Resources Committee already has scheduled hearings on the Senate bill for next week. The Senate had a goal of passing an oil-tax bill in time to give the House 30 days to work on it.
That won't happen unless there's a special session. As of Thursday, there's a month left in the 90-day regular session.