Emily Fetsch told lawmakers Wednesday to be skeptical of threats that businesses will flee the state without passage of tax reform.

The policy director for the Kansas Center for Economic Growth said five years of corporate tax cuts imposed under former Gov. Sam Brownback didn't lead to business growth, and the 2017 reversal of those cuts didn't scare businesses away.

She said proposed legislation that would deliver an estimated $137 million in savings to multinational corporations would launch another risky experiment that benefits big business while state services suffer.

"We believe that the needs of giant corporations shouldn't come before those of everyday Kansans who have already endured years of disinvestment and cuts," Fetsch said.

The House Taxation Committee is grappling with Senate Bill 22, which passed the Senate earlier this month.

Corporate representatives said changes in federal tax code will fuel an unfair and intended tax hike at the state level unless lawmakers enact changes to Kansas law. Sweeping federal changes enacted in December 2017 involved reducing the corporate income tax rate from 35 to 21 percent in exchange for adding foreign income to the tax pool.

Information provided by Michael Hale, an attorney with the Kansas Department of Revenue, shows Kansas is among 34 states that tax some part of overseas profits. Kathleen Smith, the department's director of research and analysis, said it will be a couple of years before the state knows how much money is at stake.

David Rankin, an executive with agriculture and transportation giant Seaboard Corp., which employs 800 people in Kansas, has made it clear the company has options if it wants to move jobs and developments to another state.

He asked legislators to think about how Kansas wants to attract jobs and investment.

"We operate in very competitive markets with very small margins, and when we ultimately are forced to pay incremental tax in one place, there seems to be a fairness argument that would argue against imposing this tax in Kansas," Rankin said.

Under federal law, he said, businesses receive a credit for taxes already paid to a foreign government. Kansas doesn't allow those credits, which means a company could pay taxes on foreign profits at the state level while having no obligation to the feds.

Eric Stafford, a lobbyist for the Kansas Chamber, said some businesses would see their Kansas tax liability double if lawmakers decline to pass the proposed legislation. One unnamed business, he said, would have its state tax bill multiply by 10 in the first year.

Mark Tallman, of the Kansas Association for School Boards, said tax policy isn't the only thing a business looks at when deciding where to place investments. Businesses also want a thriving education system, Tallman said, and he expressed concern that tax relief could threaten investments in public schools.

"It seems to us that being competitive is not only tax policy — it's all the other things a business needs," Tallman said.