Maryland’s top tax man told a Bethesda audience he is cringing this tax day, despite what most Democrats have labeled as a successful General Assembly.

Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat, came out against a gas tax to pay for transportation projects last year, arguing it would hurt middle and working class people in a still fragile economy. Democrats passed a transportation bill that includes a gas tax increase in the recently concluded 2013 legislative session.

“For us in this pocket of affluence, it’s not a big deal, but 200,000 in Maryland are looking for work or underemployed,” Franchot told a meeting of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Democratic Club on Monday morning. “I’m cringing because of the rhetoric of our party and the actual results. …We’re very proud of our leadership but we have to change direction.”

In March, the House and Senate approved the gas tax hike, backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), that will raise gas prices by 4 cents in July and 13 to 20 cents by July 2016.

Franchot, thought to be a candidate for governor in the 2014 primary, surprised many late last year when he announced he would instead seek re-election as comptroller.

In his talk this morning, Franchot also spoke about the difficulty of attracting a business to the state and said he’d like to see more Democrats who understand what’s going on in the economy.

“If you want to move a business to Montgomery County, take a ticket and get in line,” Franchot said.

As for tax collection, Franchot said he anticipated a smooth tax season with state refunds getting back to taxpayers within three days if they paid online.