Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, beset by a $1.4 billion budget shortfall and gloomy economic forecasts, has all but ruled out a pay raise for teachers next year because the state doesn't have the money.

At the Southern Governors Association meeting in Natchez, Miss., Wilder, in response to a question, said it was unrealistic to hope that he could find money for higher salaries for teachers or state employees during the second year of Virginia's two-year budget, which began in July.

"We haven't even been looking at raises," his press secretary, Laura Dillard, said later. "We've been looking at what the layoff picture is like . . . . Raises are secondary to {the question of} who's not going to have a job."

No money has been set aside for teacher raises during the 1991-92 school year, and Wilder had pledged during the state teachers union convention in March that he would use part of a $200 million reserve for raises if economically feasible. But, Dillard said yesterday, "there's a world of difference between where we stood then and where we stand now."

Since then, Wilder has issued a succession of increasingly gloomy state revenue forecasts. He has ordered budget cuts and frozen construction projects to deal with what he terms Virginia's worst fiscal predicament since World War II.

The impact of the governor's latest statement on Northern Virginia school districts remains uncertain. Local school boards could still award teacher pay raises next year, but would have to do so without state help.

Madeline I. Wade, president of the 43,000-member Virginia Education Association teachers union, which enthusiastically supported Wilder's candidacy, said she would appeal his position on teacher pay to the General Assembly in January.

She had some success there last winter. Wade and her allies persuaded legislators to reinstate part of a cut in teacher raises proposed by the governor for the current fiscal year.

"We're going to fight the good fight and it's not over until the General Assembly bangs their gavel down on the budget," she said.

During his campaign, Wilder adopted his predecessor's goal of reaching the national average for teachers' salaries, a pledge he reiterated in March. In 1989-90, the average teacher's salary in Virginia had climbed to $30,926, just $240 shy of the national average.

Few teachers or state employees contacted yesterday were surprised by the governor's statement, given the state's bleak fiscal situation, but many said they had been holding out hope.

"Just when you think you can't be any more discouraged, you hear something like this," said Maureen Daniels, president of the Fairfax Education Association.

"It's pretty dismal times," said Joan Dent, director of the Virginia Governmental Employees Association. "But there are other measures that could be taken."

The administration has already canceled a 2 percent raise scheduled for Dec. 1 for the state's 80,000 workers.

Dillard said keeping the $200 million "rainy day fund" tucked away was the "prudent option" for anticipating further revenue shortfalls.

"The question is, how hard is it raining?" she said. "It's clear a lot of people are saying we've got tougher times ahead before it gets better."