Co-sponsored by John Yoder, R-Jefferson/Berkeley, and two other senators, the bill is up for passage in the Senate today, but still would have to clear the House of Delegates.
Unger and Yoder, R-Jefferson, on Friday credited each other for making strong arguments in support of the amendment on Thursday.
"He did a great job arguing on the floor," Unger said of Yoder's support for amending the bill that Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin and Minority Leader Don Caruth introduced on behalf of Manchin. Yoder introduced similar tax-deferment legislation last year.
On Friday, Yoder said he was with Democratic senators after the vote who received phone calls from Manchin or the governor's staff urging them to have the bill recalled. They were told that Unger's amendment would cost the state $10 million, Yoder said.
"I have heard from a number of Democrats that the governor has tried to get them to change their vote," Yoder said.
Even with the supposed cost, Yoder said opponents of the amendment should consider the financial impact on the state if older Jefferson and Berkeley County residents, angered by the lack of long-anticipated tax relief, bring about the defeat of countywide excess levies that help fund the region's growing school districts. The defeat of the levies would shift millions in funding responsibility to the state.
Unger said he had not been contacted by the governor or his staff and wasn't aware of any pressure on other Democratic members, but said the House of Delegates could make changes to the bill if it needed to be tweaked.
"If (the governor and his staff) want to change it, then I think they ought to come out and tell the seniors why," said Unger, who cited a number of recent Senate votes this session that would give tax relief to business CEOs, including a bill for airplane owners backed by Manchin.
"What's wrong with helping these people? They spent their whole life working hard, they got a home - they want to keep it," Unger said.
Before the "floor fight" Friday in the Senate chamber, Unger said a version of his amendment was defeated in the Finance Committee by two votes. Afterward, Unger said he worked with fellow committee member Donna J. Boley, R-Pleasants, to "fine tune' the legislation and welcomed the support of Yoder and Sen. John Pat Fanning, D-McDowell, who signed on as co-sponsors.
"This is the right thing to do," Unger said. "This not a John Unger thing or a John Yoder thing."