RICHMOND, OCT. 16 -- Groups representing Virginia teachers and state workers broke publicly with Gov. L. Douglas Wilder today, vowing to lobby the General Assembly to win raises next year.

Wilder, citing the state's economic downturn and flat tax collections, has all but ruled out public employee raises next year. But three employee unions said the state should award pay raises by spending a $200 million reserve fund that the governor and the General Assembly approved last winter.

"You don't put the economic problems of the state on the backs of {public} employees," said Madeline I. Wade, president of the Virginia Education Association, whose 48,000 members represent about three-fourths of state teachers.

Wilder countered that "we're not speaking of raises, were talking about fiscal responsibility and belt-tightening," and said it was "callous" for the employee groups "to speak of raises for some people while we're laying off others."

Education Association leaders were joined at a news conference this morning by the presidents of the Virginia Governmental Employees Association and the Virginia State Police Association. This was the first time they have pressed the case for salary raises for teachers and about 80,000 state employees in such a high-profile fashion, highlighting their differences with the governor.

"It's not a war on the governor, it's a war on the $200 million," Wade said.

Although Wilder said he originally hoped to use the $200 million for teachers' raises, the state's anemic tax collections mean that spending the money now would be unwise. Instead, he wants to keep the money on hand in case the more than $1.3 billion in cuts and savings he has already ordered don't prove sufficient to balance the budget.

The groups said they are not requesting raises of a specific size. They said they hope the General Assembly at least would keep their salaries level with the rate of inflation, which is now running over 5 percent annually.

State budget officials said the $200 million reserve probably would be sufficient to increase salaries at those levels. If not, at least one of the union leaders said the legislature ought to raise more money.

"We have no problem with saying the word taxes," said Walter Pennington, president of the 16,000-member government workers group.

Wilder responded, "I don't see any need to raise taxes -- period."

The state for the last several years has been on a campaign to raise Virginia's teacher salaries through aid to local schools. Without state help, local school boards can raise salaries with their own money if they choose.

But Wade said most school districts are already hard-pressed. "The belt-tightening . . . for education . . . would be strangulation."

State employees had a 3 percent raise on July 1, but an additional 2 percent increase scheduled for December was cancelled.

Legislators, who reconvene in January, may be no more receptive to the unions' arguments than Wilder. "It's a pretty bleak picture right now," Senate Majority Leader Hunter B. Andrews (D-Hampton) said of the pay raise possibilities. "We shall see."

"I'm sympathetic to people getting their pay raises," said Del. Vincent F. Callahan (R-McLean). "I don't see where {the money} is going to come from."