With less than a week left in our 90-day legislative session — and a budget deficit of almost $3 billion — lawmakers seem further apart than ever on how to pay for state government.

It is the most serious issue facing our state, perhaps one of the biggest challenges in its entire history, yet most Alaskans don’t want to talk about it.

Tell people you’re going to do a show on Alaska’s budget crisis, and their eyes glaze over. So we thought we’d take an unorthodox approach to this subject and use some costumes and props to illustrate the problem – much in the way that political cartoons sharpen the focus on issues.

We certainly don’t want to minimize the impact of the budget crisis on the state’s economy. Whichever path lawmakers choose to solve our money woes — if and when they choose — every Alaskan will feel the pain, some more than others.

In the spirit of entertaining as well as informing, let me forewarn you that this won’t be a typical Frontiers program. But we hope you come away with a better idea of what’s at stake for Alaskans.

Some of the highlights of this week’s Frontiers:

    • BUDGET FEARS: Cliff Groh, who has spent a career in public policy, says a budget fix has been out of reach because we are afraid of the answers. Rather than approach solutions from what we hope and love, Groh says we look at them through the lens of fear and oppose solutions based on our own self-interest. Groh breaks down those fears and shares his biggest: that time is running out and Alaskans will turn on each other, rather than work together to dig out from under the state’s fiscal crisis.
    • FEATURED GUESTS: Remember that old Monty Hall “Let’s Make a Deal” show, when the contestants had to choose what’s behind various doors? We look at the budget through five doors of possibilities, with help from two veteran political observers, Larry Persily and Christopher Clark.
    • SPECIAL FEATURE: The sights and sounds of the Cama-i Dance Festival from photojournalist Beth Peak.

I hope you find this week’s show helpful in understanding why it’s so hard for lawmakers to make a deal — and why they need our help. That quote from Franklin Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” seems to apply to this period in Alaska history, in which a certain degree of fearlessness, applied with common sense, is needed to deal with our fiscal challenges.

Special thanks to the staff at Party World for dressing up in costumes for us to vividly illustrate our fears.